While I was in college, I was really naive about office politics. I figured if I just keep to myself, and stay out of trouble I would be fine. I mean lieing to co-workers, and pushing someone out of their job only happened in the movies! Was it even legal? (yes, I was living in a right to work state.) You can’t just fire someone for no cause right? (you can) I was so young and dumb. In this case I was not fired, I quit. It was a crummy part time job while I was in college. It was a really big lesson regarding jealous women in the workplace. Sadly, I’m not alone in this one either. So, how does one deal with a situation like this?
Why does it happen!
In my case I was just minding my own business, avoiding workplace issues and gossip, suddenly I’m a target! The biggest thing to remember here is that it’s them, not you. According to the nest there are a number of reasons women (and sometimes men) start acting inappropriately due to jealousy. I think the most important reason is low self – esteem. That ends up being a lose lose situation. The nest states ” Low self-esteem is a never-ending cycle because those who have low self-confidence aren’t usually chosen for promotions and raises, leading to increased feelings of jealousy.”
And you thought you had graduated high school…
If you thought you had left the mean girls and bullies behind in high school think again. They grow up and have get jobs too, you may be stuck with one or more of them. Going back to low self – esteem. Many women will feel threatened by a successful confident women. According to paired life this ‘mean girls’ behavior often happens when a woman feels threatened, and they think you will take what is ‘theirs’ (promotion, corner office etc.)
Can’t forget the sexual side
In my situation the woman who targeted me was sleeping with the boss. They were both married at the time. I wanted no part of it! Really none! So, why was I dragged into it? In my mind I was thinking ‘I’m happily married, surly she can’t see me as a threat’. Well, she was married sleeping with a married man so marriage vows didn’t really matter much to her (or him…clearly). According to the nest sexual competition is a big reason for jealousy in the work place.
How do I fix this?!?
First and foremost, you want to keep you reputation in tact! Whether you stay at that company or leave, don’t let this person get the best of you and ruin your reputation. It’s not worth it! In my situation, it was best to leave. I was moving to another state in a few months, and it was only a part time college job. But the most important take away is that I left with a good reputation.
If you stay at that company
Obviously, if you don’t like your job and this is happening, start hunting for a new workplace. If you really enjoy the company you work for, I encourage you to stay! No one should push you out, but you do need to deal with this situation because it won’t go away on it’s own. It will only get worse if left untreated. I made that mistake. Forbes has some really great tips for how to get through a tough something like jealousy, without giving away your power.
A Couple tips
A couple good tips that Marcus recommends is to detach emotionally and find a mentor. These are great ways to get through this rough patch as unscathed as possible. The other women’s behavior is not even about you, it’s about her. By emotionally detaching you keep your power, and your reputation. If it wasn’t you, it would just be someone else, it’s her problem. Do your work, let it speak for it’s self. Marcus’s other tip was to find a mentor. This is a very good tip especially if the mentor has been in your shoes! You can find out what she did to get through this! Keep you head held high. Make sure you are doing so well, that if she tries to wreck your reputation and talk badly about you; to your co-workers, no one would believe her.
Make sure you keep a paper trail
In my situation, I had just began making a paper trail. I didn’t really have much when I was pushed out. I think a more in depth paper trail would have really helped me! But, you live and learn. If you have proof via paper trail recordings etc. it’s not just your word against hers. HR can act on proof, not hearsay.
Talk with HR
If the person who is bullying you is your boss, I don’t recommend taking the issue straight to her. Document what has been occurring, document that you have been trying to do your job to the best of your ability, and you are being thwarted. Go to HR once you feel you have enough solid proof that there is a problem.You may not be the only one dealing with this workplace jealousy from this person. This might be what HR needs to fire this person. Keep a couple things in mind though: 1. Bullying is not illegal. There might not be much HR can do. 2. You might get fired for being a whistle blower on this one. I know it sounds crazy but it has happened to me.
Even if you love your job and you love the company you work for, you don’t really know how this is all going to flesh out. If things do not go in your favor, you really want to make a swift and professional exit as soon as possible. Keep your reputation in tact, and it never hurts to be prepared. Make sure you have your accomplishments documented on your resume, and start networking!
For your next workplace
Learn from this situation. In my case workplace romances were not hidden, and were going on a lot. That’s not good. When you are interviewing, ask to see the company handbook so you can see their policy on bullying, and workplace romances.
If your not already, start saving money!
Just in case you find yourself out a job due to this whole debacle, make sure you have a buffer in place. You don’t know how long you will be unemployed (if that happens), keep that buffer to keep you sane! Knowing you have a buffer makes you less likely to take a bad job out of desperation either.
If I could turn back time!
There are a few things I would have done differently if I could go back in time. 1. I would have quit sooner. It was not a job I had a future with, I found it painfully boring. I thought I needed the check, and that I ‘could just stick it out until we moved’. 2. I would have spoken up sooner. I really just wanted the issue to go away on it’s own and it just got worse. I don’t know that I wouldn’t have gotten fired, she was sleeping with the boss, but I could have prevented it from getting worse. (Whether I was there or not).
Strange turn of events
When my boss was out of town, the bully told me my boss just wanted to fire me anyway and he would be here during for this conversation but he was on vacation. I was stupid enough to believe her, and I did not feel I got paid enough to put up with that so I put in my 2 weeks that afternoon. I was cut off from the computer system the next day. I sent certified mail copies of my paper trail, and notice, to corporate and my boss. In a strange turn of events, my former boss called me up to apologize for misreading my 2 weeks notice as an up and quit. The VP had let him know.
If you are going dealing with a jealous female co-worker right now, you have my sympathy! Keep your head held high, you can only control your actions. If it wasn’t you, it would just be someone else. Stand up for yourself and do the right thing! You’ve got this!