I was going to title this article “The Bitch Within,” but I decided — in the spirit of the season — and so as not to offend the faint of heart — to rename it. Read on (if you dare)...
I was part of a panel recently about women in leadership. One of the topics that came up was how women in management may be perceived as bitches at times. We also had a lively discussion about the need many women in management have for control. That’s certainly not the first time I’ve heard either of those things.
That said, some women can be truly insidious in the workplace — bullying co-workers, treating employees and colleagues with disrespect, and putting their own needs above all others. In our personal lives, those are the supposed “girlfriends” who trash talk, given unwanted (or simply bad) advice, and gossip. I’m not talking about that species. I’m talking about “situational witches.”
I confess — I have had more than one day when I was truly nasty, ill-tempered, or impatient — or perhaps all three. At times, the only way I could get what I needed at work or to be heard was to become a bit strident. That’s deliberate and “I don’t really care” witch behavior. But sometimes the evil side just leads out when it doesn’t have to.
Rather than just cackling and retreating to my cauldron and toads this week, I self-reflected on the trigger points in my life that inadvertently brought out my inner witch. Stress, insecurity, pressure to succeed at a task, life chaos, and lack of control all have contributed to those evil moments.
I’ve also noticed that we women tend to sometimes attribute evil motives to others — writing dark fictions in their heads or jumping to conclusions rather than gathering facts. The fact that SOME (certainly not ALL) women do this can create a “crying wolf” (or wolf man) situation, when a situation arises in which a woman is truly being wronged in the workplace, facing discrimination, or even harassed.
Of course, I’ve known my share of men — in work and business — who grow hair and fangs (not literally) when the moon is full. But working women are still learning how to balance life and work, deal with workplace conflict, and earn respect and influence in the boardroom (and sometimes in their households). We sometimes reach for the black hat and broomstick rather than analyzing the situation.
So, this Halloween (and all year long) I’m suggesting we just tell the flying monkeys to stay in the garage until we’ve figured out what we really need and how to get it.
Have YOU ever been called a witch (or worse) at work? What prompted it? Was there any truth in it? If so, what did you do about it?