Learning to Deal With Mean Girls As an Adult

Lauren Kolesinskas illustration, It's me
“It’s Me” by Lauren Kolesinskas
Lauren is a Pratt graduate who lives in Brooklyn; she really enjoys drawing gooey things and hair / @lkolesin

Since the 2004 release of the spectacular “Mean Girls,” the film’s title has been constantly used to describe individuals that bear a striking resemblance to antagonist Regina George. Although these Mean Girls are mostly believed to troll school grounds, some (I hate to say most) leave the playground to be mean girls in the workplace or wider community as they grow up.

During adolescence, a Mean Girl, in my experience, often acts out of jealousy or insecurity. She usually picks another girl who isn’t outwardly confident and doesn’t have the favor of girls around them (which is why being the new girl can be scary). She, of course, projects herself as all-powerful and dominant which is why most people don’t stand up to her. She uses words as a weapon rather than her fists, spreading rumors and whispering insults so the victimised girl can’t fully approach her on her horrid behavior. Through this, the parasite-like Mean Girl feeds off of their victim’s social decay to climb the social tower and as a classic bully, make themselves feel good.

It’s no secret that preteen and teen girls can be vicious towards each other—the term ‘Girl Hate’ has become popular in recent years with onslaughts of slut shaming, petty jealousy, online bullying and other such behaviors still a common occurrence. It also isn’t surprising the intense emotional and mental effects victims can face if they’re exposed to such ill-treatment on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are ways to tackle this type of behavior and to spread the message of girl love, encouraging girls and women to work together to further themselves rather than tear each other down.

 
“No one is perfect and talking it out is the best way to ensure you both are on the same page in regards to how you like to be treated.”
 

How to Handle Them

Healthy assertiveness and mutual girl love is the way to push yourself forward in life. However, some girls don’t mentally leave the halls of high school, carrying on their damaging behavior within the community and/or workplace.

There are of course ways in which you can be the adult in the situation and rightfully defend yourself.

Try to Confront the Situation Calmly

Occasionally, we just rub people the wrong way. There’s no harm in trying to talk it out. You’re adults after all. Just express your feelings in an assertive and a respectful manner, not forgetting to take any criticism that your colleague/potential mean girl may have. No one is perfect and talking it out is the best way to ensure you both are on the same page in regards to how you like to be treated.

Be Confident and Assertive

Like predators, Mean Girls look for who they think is the weakest in the group, knowing that they’ll be able to affect that person the most. This is usually the new person in a workplace who has yet to establish any friendships or a strong reputation. However, if you show a genuine confidence in yourself (this can be done by speaking up in meetings, taking on a leader-like persona, etc.) the Mean Girl will believe that you don’t care about what she says (and you shouldn’t) and will hopefully back off.

Surround Yourself with Positive People

Mean Girls can take a toll emotionally and even mentally, but I’ve found surrounding myself with positive, open-minded people to be a striving force to rebuilding my self-esteem. Whether it be friends/family outside of work or like-minded co-workers, make sure you have people around you that remind you how great you are.

 
“No one has the right to make you feel inferior.”
 

Look After Yourself

Learn to look after yourself, whether it be going for a run or taking a bath after work, cuddling with a pet or meeting up with your positive friends. There’s no harm or shame in seeing a counselor or therapist if you feel as if you need it. Know that you don’t deserve to be bullied and learn what calms you after an interaction with a Mean Girl.

These strategies can be applied to any kind of bully, whether it be the office mean girl or a difficult family member. No one has the right to make you feel inferior, so although the message of girl love and encouragement may not reach everyone, we can certainly block out such negativity and help each other reach greatness.

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