8 Types of workplace bitches — and how to handle them

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Adapted from Working with Bitches by Meredith Fuller

The Excluder sees other women as oxygen thieves if there is no personal gain from communicating with them. She can pretend you don’t exist and fail to pass on important information.
The solution:
Don’t chase after her. The more you dance after her, the more she ignores you. Minimum required communication and protocols such as basic greeting is likely to result from a stern word from a more senior manager. Make sure you obtain necessary information from any other sources.

The Insecure micromanages everyone, trusts no one and thinks that no one knows better than she does.
The solution:
She is usually anxious and worried; this drives her perfectionism. She needs regular updates to allay her fears, so keep her updated before she chases you. Keep your work and desk tidy to get her off your back. Determine the type of outcomes needed, and reassure deadlines/delivery/quality standard/success. Get up as soon as she strides over to your desk so that you can speak with her without her peering over your shoulder at your computer.
She has to nit pick, so the fewer criticisms the better and consider that as praise. Make sure you have colleagues or friends to give you feedback about how well you did on the project.

The Toxic is a two-faced game-player who should never be trusted. She’ll suck up to you and be your best friend one minute, then gossip about you the next.
The solution:
Keep your distance figuratively and literally. Physical closeness makes it easier for her to slime you, vampire your energy and irritate you with her blackness. Refuse to gossip; refuse to let her whisper or mutter ambiguous statements — call her on them.

The Narcissist is a self-serving ego-centric mean girl who expects everyone to admire her. She doesn’t care about the good of the company, only about looking good, and expects you to feed her ego.
The solution:
Don’t expect much, if anything. If you need her buy-in on a project she needs to think it will be a feather in her cap, or offer an opportunity to bathe in the light. Let her — she probably does it well. If she is denied applause and attention, she will sulk and turn belligerent and de-motivated.  Never become a handmaiden by doing personal favors or odd-jobs such as minding her animals, or covering for yet another manicure trip when she is supposed to be at a meeting. If you notice something about her (such as fabulous shoes) before you start the task with her, she is less likely to resist. Things will take longer, so allocate a little more time when working with her.

The Screamer cries for attention, yells to intimidate, screams to insult, and then yells some more for good measure.
The solution:
Two year olds in supermarkets do this. Notice the smart parents who stand away from the flailing limbs, breathe deeply, wait, or comfortably refuse to engage. No point trying to outscream her—she has more practice. If your organization is ok for you to say “I’ll come back when you are calmer,” leave. Humor may defuse the situation. Keep your distance, and stay close to a doorway—don’t allow her to box you in. Also check—is she rude and unaware? Some screamers have never been told about their unacceptable behavior (because people are too afraid; they assume she must have been told but it doesn’t work; or she has slipped through performance review cracks for so long it doesn’t seem worth it.) Sometimes, kind feeback can help. Remember, that level of anger usually hides hurt or resentment.

The Liar has mastered the art of excuses, quick fibs and charming manipulations.
The solution:
Never trust them. Never be alone with them — they will twist whatever is said or done. They like the game, and usually escalate. At some point they will have to go, but you may not wish to wait them out if you report directly.

The Incompetent lacks knowledge, work ethic and awareness. She makes you do the work for her or takes credit for your work in order to make herself look good.
The solution:
Her arrogance may be defensiveness or she simply doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. She will be suspicious that any info or advice from you is to show her up or is a challenge rather than support, so get it across from neutral sources — e.g. association newssheets or tips, articles, or other people.

The Not-a-Bitch may have an unfortunate or disagreeable manner, but is just trying to do her job.
The solution:
Look at your own behavior — don’t project your laziness, tardiness, lack of attention or lack of manners onto her. Learn from her.


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