Women in the workforce – how to stay professional when things get personal


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This presentation examines the different ways that women in the legal profession may compete with each other, and offers field-tested techniques for breaking free from or avoiding power struggles between women at work. Participants will learn how to transform difficult woman-to-woman interactions from personal battles to professional alliances. Based on the book Mean Girls at Work – How to Stay Professional When Things get Personal, by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster.

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Women in the workforce – how to stay professional when things get personal

  1. 1. Women in The Workforce:How to Stay ProfessionalWhen Things Get PersonalPresented by Kathi Elster and Katherine Crowleywww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  2. 2. With women comprising of theworkforce, it is more likely than ever that…the average female lawyer, clerk, judge, ormediator will have female peers, femalebosses, and female employees to manage.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  3. 3. Woman-to-woman relationships are different from man-to-man relationships and man-to-woman relationships atwork.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  4. 4. OFFER TECHNIQUES FOR BREAKING FREEFROM POWER STRUGGLES.Examine the different waysthat women compete witheach other.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  5. 5. Male competition isusuallywww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  6. 6. Most men are comfortable with aggressive statementsand outright competition**In fact, men can engage in intense verbal battles, then go out witheach other for a drink afterward!www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  7. 7. Women compete differently.Women are designed to ‘tend and befriend’ their same sexcolleagues.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  8. 8. We have 2 conflicting desiresVSwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  9. 9. Covert Competition Examples3. A female supervisor may harshly criticizeher most capable employee in an attemptto keep her down.1. One woman may “accidentally” forget toinvite a female colleague to an importantmeeting.2. A female coworker may spread falseinformation about her female peers(betterknown as gossip) to gain points.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  10. 10. …Or 6 different kinds of “Mean”.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  11. 11. Meanest of the Mean• Feel they must be meanto survive.• View all women asadversaries.• Lack Compassion• Unable to see anybodyelse’s point of viewThe IcePrincess whotreatseveryonewith disdainwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  12. 12. Very Mean• Tough on the outside andinsecure on the inside.• Do and say mean thingswhenever they encountera woman who threatensthem.• Quick to feeljealous, envious andcompetitive with anotherwoman The ViciousGossip whospreads rumorsto make anotherwoman look badwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  13. 13. Passively Mean• Any woman who actsnice but is covertlycompetitive.• Hard to pin downbecause she presentssuch a friendly veneer.• Her mean comes outindirectly throughexclusion, avoidance.The coworker whoaccidentallyexcludes you from ameeting where yourattendance matterswww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  14. 14. Doesn’t Mean to be Mean• Extremely self-absorbed.• Unconscious/Inconsiderate behavior strikes otherwomen as mean.• Truly oblivious to impactof their actions.The coworkerwho ischronicallylate, leaving youin the lurchwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  15. 15. Doesn’t Know She’s Mean• Behave in ways that theythink will improve asituation.• Accidentally alienatewomen around them.• Sound quite self-righteous.A coworker whobosses youaround becauseshe thinks youneed the benefitof her knowledgewww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  16. 16. Brings out your mean• Their neediness bringsout your meantendencies• You find yourselfgossiping about theperson, avoiding her ormaking faces when she’sspeaking.The insecurecoworker whoasks too manyquestions, interrupting your workflowand depleting yourenergywww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  17. 17. HOW DO WE HANDLE THESE DIFFERENTKINDS OF MEAN GIRL BEHAVIORS?www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  18. 18. Women are processorsWhen something good or bad happens, we talk about it.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  19. 19. If a woman feels attacked by another woman, sheautomatically goes through a 3 Step Process:Step 3She then describes how she’d like to counter-attack“I’m never talking to her again.” OR “The next time sheasks for help, she’s out of luck.”Step 2She follows the report with how she’s feeling“I’m so mad I could spit. She humiliated me in front ofeveryoneStep 1She finds an ally and reports (with emotion) what theattacking woman did“You’ve got to hear what she just did to me…”www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  20. 20. DON’T GO THERE!www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  21. 21. The most important thing toremember when faced with a MeanGirl of any kind is to refrain fromcounter attacking.No eyerollingNofreezingoutNo bad-mouthing#1www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  22. 22. Why Not?Counter attacking often makesYOU look like the bad guyCounter attacking locks you in apower struggleCounter attacking doesn’t workwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  23. 23. Every woman we spoke to -and we mean everywoman- expressed remorsefor counter attackingwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  24. 24. DON’T GO THERE!www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  25. 25. Find ways to process the negativeimpact that a mean girl’s actionshave on you.ExerciseTrustedFriend orAdvisorInventoryofsituation#2www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  26. 26. DON’T GO THERE!www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  27. 27. Find professional solutions to anyproblems you have with a mean girl.Respond to the other woman’sbehavior in a way that addresses thework issue but keeps you out of apersonal battle with her.#3www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  28. 28. Let’s examine a few specificscenarios that involve covertcompetitionwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  29. 29. She puts you down publicly(Meanest of the mean)• What She DoesA female colleague says something derogatoryto you in front of your peers.“Did you take any English courses in college? Thisdocument is a mess.”“I’d save that outfit for Casual Fridays.”“Why don’t you talk to the client? You’re good atpretending you care.”www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  30. 30. She puts you down publicly(Meanest of the mean)• How You FeelSideswiped and shockedUnsure what you did to deserve such treatmentFlush of heatHeart racingEmbarrassed, angry or hurtEither you shut down or want to fight backwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  31. 31. She puts you down publicly(Meanest of the mean)• Don’t Go There!Don’t react out of anger.Don’t give yourself a hard time for not speakingup in the momentDon’t re-tell the story ad nauseam to anyonewho will listenDon’t say, “You’re not going to believe what shesaid to me...”www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  32. 32. She puts you down publicly(Meanest of the mean)• Go HereTake steps to purge emotional toxins:• Engage in rigorous exercise• Get a massage or some other form of self-care• Seek counsel from a trusted confidante.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  33. 33. She puts you down publicly(Meanest of the mean)• Going Forward– Address colleague’s comments withoutfeeding cattiness“Did you take any English courses in college?This document is a mess.”• Thank you for the feedback. Yes, I did take Englishin college and did very well. I’ll make all thecorrections you suggested.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  34. 34. She puts you down publicly(Meanest of the mean)• Going Forward“I’d save that outfit for Casual Fridays.”• Thanks for the feedback. It’s important to knowhow others perceive me.“Why don’t you talk to the client? You’re good atpretending you care.”• Thank You.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  35. 35. How to take really mean behavior lesspersonally• It’s not about you.• You are not the first person she’s gone after, andyou won’t be the last!• Find ways to not take her mean words to heart.Look at the facts:– Does this woman have a history of conflict with otherwomen who’ve preceded you?– Does she have a reputation as ‘someone to avoid’?– Do you notice other women giving you sympatheticlooks when she attacks you?www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  36. 36. She fails to give youimportant info(Passively Mean)• What She DoesYou’re working on a legal brief with anotherwoman. The boss informs her that the deadlinehas been moved up. He asks her to inform youand she never does. You discover this 10minutes before an important meeting where thatsame boss is expecting to see a final draft.“Did I remember to tell you that our brief is duetoday? I finished my part. Do you have yours?”“You weren’t around when the boss came by. I triedto find you. Then it must have slipped my mind”www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  37. 37. She fails to give youimportant information(Passively Mean)• How You FeelDazed and upsetSet up and furiousNervous about repercussionswww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  38. 38. She fails to give youimportant information(Passively Mean)• Don’t Go There!Don’t yell, “How dare you?”Don’t run to the boss and say “She didn’t tellme.”Don’t rant about her to your best friend at workDon’t act out- throwing things or stompingaround.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  39. 39. She fails to give youimportant information(Passively Mean)• Go Here!Take responsibility for the fact that you are notpreparedRefrain from blaming your co-workerSay to your boss:“I understand that the deadline was changed and I wasn’there for you to inform me.”“Unfortunately, I found out too late for me to beprepared.”“I apologize for the delay, but I can get this to you by theend of the day.”www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  40. 40. She fails to give youimportant information(Passively Mean)• Going ForwardMake the following request to your boss:“To insure that I know of any changes in thefuture, please communicate with me directly. If I’mnot present, I can always be reached by email.”Don’t count on your colleague to have yourbackwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  41. 41. Why some women cannot admitto their bad behavior• Some women literally are psychologicallyincapable of admitting when they’ve donesomething wrong.• What’s going on?You’re probably bumping against a structuralproblem. Her internal hardwiring makes herincapable of true self-reflection.She can’t admit to wrongdoing becausepsychologically she can’t tolerate the notion ofbeing at fault.All women are not designed the samewww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  42. 42. She bosses you around(Doesn’t Know She’s Mean)• What She DoesShe tells you to get the coffee for ameeting, she insists that you photocopy anydocuments; she tells you when to go to lunch.She’ll volunteer your services for the moremenial tasks. She tells you when you shouldtake your vacation (based on when she wantsto take hers)www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  43. 43. She bosses you around(Doesn’t Know She’s Mean)• How You FeelShocked at her presumed authorityDiminishedGrowing to resent herHaving fantasies of revengewww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  44. 44. She bosses you around(Doesn’t Know She’s Mean)• Don’t Go There!Don’t complain to your boss about herDon’t expect her to changeDon’t yell at her – telling her she has no right totell you what to dowww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  45. 45. She bosses you around(Doesn’t Know She’s Mean)• Go HereNext time she orders you to photocopy adocument that you both need, say “Sure, I’ll askthe receptionist to do it if you don’t want to.”If she tells you when you’re supposed to go tolunch, say “ Actually, that lunch hour isn’t goingto work today, I need to go at 1:00pm instead.”www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  46. 46. She bosses you around(Doesn’t Know She’s Mean)• Going ForwardBig challenge with this kind of person: Not totake her bossiness personally.Continue to neutralize her demands by tellingher what you will and will not do.Let her know you want to work with her, but youdon’t work for herwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  47. 47. Strike when you’re cooled off – not inthe heat of the moment• Anger used constructively can serve as yourprotection.• You’ll appear more professional (and be morepowerful) if you speak or write to a womanwho angers you from a position of calmnessand clarity.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  48. 48. Strike when you’re cooled off – not inthe heat of the moment• Take a slow, deep breath and calmly respondwith neutral statements like “Is that so?”“Interesting” “Hmmm” or “Let me think aboutthat.”• Take time to chill…splash your face with coldwater, exercise, call a friend. Do something tocool your system down.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  49. 49. 5 Rules to Staying ProfessionalWhen Things Get Personal.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  50. 50. Rule #1: Don’t Take Her BaitGetting a reaction from yougratifies the mean side of her.Not taking the bait means thatyou do not respond emotionallyto her behaviorwww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  51. 51. Rule #2: Don’t engage in negativespeak about herIt’s tempting to want tobadmouth or gossip.You are fueling the powerstruggle between the two of youand you may end up looking likethe pettier person.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  52. 52. Rule #3: Don’t engage in non-verbal gesturesRolling your eyes, turning yourback, whispering to a colleaguewhen she walks by- thesegestures convey hostility andindirect aggression.Make sure you don’t engage inthese or other forms of non-verbal attacking.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  53. 53. Rule #4: Aim for professionalbehavior at all timesTake the High Road.Acting professional towards allwomen in your workplace-regardless of how you feelabout them- is a key componentof “winning” with mean girls.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  54. 54. Rule #5: Think “friendly” instead of“friend”Assuming that every womanshould be your friend is acommon mistake.Maintain a cordial relationshipwith her where you only discussthe work at hand.www.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com
  55. 55. Thank You!Presented by Kathi Elster and Katherine Crowleywww.ksquaredenterprises.com Email: info@ksquaredenterprises.com@AskK2Facebook.com/KSquaredEnterprises