Feature

Workplace

When women bully

Rising stress levels at work bring out the worst in office bullies, said Mickey Meece in The New York Times. You might think all bullies are men, but women actually account for 40 percent of frequent offenders, according to the Bellingham, Wash.–based Workplace Bullying Institute. And while men take an “egalitarian” approach to bullying, women seem to target other women. “In the name of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, what is going on here?” One theory is that women view other women as easy targets. “But another dynamic may be at work.” Because women still are underrepresented in upper-level management, some may feel they’re in direct competition with one another.

If you’re the target of such attacks, be patient and don’t lash out in return, said Alexandra Levit in The Wall Street Journal. Put yourself in your adversary’s shoes and try to understand what’s behind the attacks. “Stop trying to win, and treat it as a problem-solving exercise,” says Bob Sutton, a professor of management science at Stanford University. You may discover that it isn’t really about you. Of course, “despite your efforts, some difficult people will persist in their negativity.” If you can’t simply ignore it, “look for ways to remove yourself from the person’s reach.” As Sutton puts it: “Some people are so toxic they’re not worth it.”

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