In an article in the New York Times on May 9, 2009, “Backlash: Women Bullying Women at Work,” Mickey Meece describes numerous cases of women bullying women at work.

Of course, women abuse, harass and sabotage other woman at work, just like men do to each other.  Sometimes they’re overt and sometimes they’re stealthy, sneaky.  Isn’t that your experience?

More important than distracting questions and considerations about how much they do it, why they do it or do they do it more or differently than men, are:
* Do you recognize the early warning signs of bullies?
* Do you know how to stop them skillfully?

Women often say that other women aren’t as overt about bullying; they’re more likely to be stealth bullies.  Some of the common tactics and perpetrators are:
* Sneaky, manipulative, backstabbing.
* Forming cliques, starting rumors, mastering demeaning put-downs.
* Pretending to be friends, but bad mouthing you behind your back.
* Negative, whining, complaining “professional victims.”
* Passive-aggressive behavior.
* Nit-picking, control-freaks, just as much as men.

How about Meryl Streep and other unsavory characters in “The Devil Wears Prada?”

Some are splinters, rotten apples and cancers – at all levels in your organization.  Just like men who bully.

Bullies are not all the same, but their patterns of behavior, their tactics, are the same – whether they’re men or woman.  That’s why we can find ways to stop them.

Ignoring the problem or begging, bribery, appeasement, simply reinforce low attitudes and behavior at all levels.  A major part of the problem are conflict-avoidant leaders, managers and co-workers who think that if we all talk nicely to each other or try to make bullies happy, they’ll stop bullying.

If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey.  Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more.

When women and men learn how to stop bullies in their tracks, we develop strength of character, determination, resilience and skill.  We need these qualities to succeed against the real world bullies they face – men or women.

Of course, individual coaching will help you design tactics that fit your specific situation.

Often, the strong and clear voice of an outside consultant and coach can change these behaviors or empower managers and staff to remove these bullies.  Companies and even non-profits and government agencies can create and maintain behavioral standards (team agreements, ground rules for professional behavior) that promote productivity.

Resource Cited: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/business/10women.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail0=y

Ben Leichtling, Ph.D. is author of the books and CDs “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “Eliminate the High cost of Low Attitudes.” He is available for coaching, consulting and speaking.  To find practical, real-world tactics to stop bullies and bullying at home, school, work and in relationships, see his web site (http://www.BulliesBeGone.com ) and blog (http://www.BulliesBeGoneBlog.com ).

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