Put-off by meanness

Kathy Lee Gifford shuts down the meanieThe events of the past few weeks have been so mean, they have sent me reeling.

John Galliano’s anti-Semitic rant was truly shocking, especially for a man who has been so successful. One wonders what fuels his rancor. An old friend posted on Facebook that she had rarely heard anyone speak that way. She is right, but given other events, such has Charlie Sheen’s anti-Semitic remarks during his sad meltdown and his scores of other mean-spirited remarks, I wonder what people are thinking. Is there a festering current of meanness brewing under the polite smiles? Is this why the problem of mean girls and bullying just doesn’t seem to get any better?
Women can be worse bullies than men
News commentator and co-host of Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski recently stated that women often treat other women worse than men do. In her new, as yet unreleased book she uncovered top women executives who purposely hired women trying to re-enter the work force after having children. The executives knew these women were so desperate to work they could hire them without benefits and for less money. There are countless studies that document that it is often women who bully women in the workplace – just as they did in high school.
We seem to be making little progress subduing bullies. The Today Show recently used a hidden camera in a staged experiment about teen girl bullying. Mothers sat and watched their daughters react. Their moms had told them about bullying and why it was wrong.
Who really stands up to bullies
The first group of girls went along with the older, so-called “charismatic” girls by bullying overweight teenaged girl. The mothers were surprised and embarrassed by their daughters’s bad behavior. One girl, who had gone along with the teasing, said afterwards she had learned from experience and would behave differently in “her real life”. I hope so, but I doubt it. The teenager was cute but timid — and she had acne. I surmise she was relieved she was not the bullies’s target.
As they repeated the experiment a second time, another girl immediately stood up to the bullies. This vibrant and self-confident young lady was having none of it as she leapt to the defense of the bullied girl. Her mother had predicted she would not participate or tolerate the behaviour. She also did not hesitate to report the behavior to the first adult who entered the room.
Obviously this girl had been given the confidence to stand up for herself and others. She had been taught to do the right thing and expected others do it also. That is the key to stopping the ugliness and bullying that seem to pervade society. Rants like Galliano’s and Sheen’s don’t come from nowhere; they’re learned – from parents or friends. Parents are not always the culprits, but they need to really teach their kids why this behaviour is wrong. They also need to take steps to control the all-powerful peer environment.
It’s not enough to tell kids that bulling is bad and to report it. Studies show that teachers and school officials often do not take bulling seriously – so why should kids? It seems that even some teachers engage in bullying. It takes a very confident child to speak up at school when it comes to a social issue.
Do mean girls grow up to be mean?
A few months ago I was speaking to an intelligent man who been a high-level manager. He said he had never heard about the mean-girl problem at work. It’s not that he was clueless, it just that workplace bullies are clever. They can be tricky and curry favour with higher-ups. It makes it hard for victims to fight back without looking like whiners. Besides, what manager is really looking for another problem to solve as long the work is getting done?
Even when you are older, mean girls can still be a problem. Their nasty remarks about a dress or a project come zapping out of nowhere, designed to sting and bring you down. I agree with experts who say the behavior is product of competitiveness. But I don’t care why they behave so badly. I avoid overly-competitive and insecure people when possible. Darlings, I suggest you do the same. Who needs the stress? Bullies need a victim, so refuse to play their ugly game.
Learn to shut them down
Today Show host Kathy Lee Gifford opined that mean people say nasty things because they want to wound. I agree. She shuts them down right way. She doesn’t need to hear how much they hated her dress or anything else. Again, I agree. I don’t need to know what someone doesn’t like about me. I wouldn’t dream of telling them what I might find less than charming about them. I don’t want to deal in that type of negativity.
Mean girls can get to you if they happen to be your boss. If you have drawn a pill in the workplace, look for new job ASAP. Meanies don’t stop or let up – so move on. Mean girls can get to you, if you let them, on a bad day. Don’t let them. Remember your own worth. Call a friend, cheer up, and move on.
Darlings, actions speak louder than words. If you are put off by meanness, stand up for any one being bullied. Often all they need is one strong confident woman on their side.