I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand women who try to sabotage other women.
Whenever I’ve been on the receiving end of a mean-spirited woman who viewed me (or other women) as a problem or a threat, I’ve often felt blindsided, surprised, and disappointed with the way things have played out, especially in the workplace.
Many women I’ve known have dealt with bullying, cliques, exclusion, and occasional shade-throwing from female bosses and coworkers in the workplace. Some of these women, myself included, have often wondered, why me?
Why is this other woman treating me so badly?
What’s her problem?
What’s her deal?
Was it something I said, did, wore, or implied?
Truthfully, you don’t have to do anything wrong to become someone’s target.
You can be the kindest, most sincere, respectful, and caring person ever, and still, there will be some women who just can’t stand you and will do what they can to sabotage you. Just when you thought you left the world of mean girls behind as a teenager, boom. They pop up again in your workplace.
Some time ago, a coworker sent an email about me to another coworker. I already knew there was tension with this woman. She didn’t seem to care much for me almost as soon as we started working together. She frequently ignored me when I’d wave hello to her in passing and often criticized my work performance. No matter how kind I was to her, she would passive-aggressively go out of her way to let me know how much she didn’t like or respect me.
The whole situation was odd and very discouraging. I dreaded going to work some days because of it.
The email about me expressed “concerns” regarding culturally relevant content I’d used in a work presentation. As soon as word got out about the email, another coworker who knew me quickly came to my defense and let me know what happened.
“I’m going to keep it 100 with you,” she shared. “An email was sent about you, and what you had in your presentation, so I came to see if everything was okay.”
I explained that I’d used a short documentary trailer about colorism to go along with a fictional text I’d been teaching about a young Black woman who struggled with the shade of her skin.
The email that was sent about me backfired. While its intent may have been to get me in trouble, it ended up working in my favor. Others who saw the presentation liked it and didn’t have an issue. I even received compliments about it too. I had the opportunity to share culturally relevant content in my work. And I released the heavyweights of worry I’d been carrying for months surrounding working with someone who clearly didn’t like me.
This wasn’t the first time I had an experience like this in the workplace with another woman I initially hoped to partner and grow with.
I learned another female coworker was “keeping tabs” on me in a prior role. She sent a text about me to another coworker regarding my work performance. The coworker who received the text reached out to me and shared, “I just thought you should know about this.”
I appreciated being informed but also felt down about working in a climate with a woman who smiled in my face one moment but was bent on tearing me down behind my back. I don’t operate that way, so I’ve never fully understood women who do.
Again, I wondered, why me? Why is this woman specifically coming for me?
I thought about confronting her with the whole, “If you have a problem with me or have anything to say about what I’m doing, you can say it to my face…” speech. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be best to just let it go. Why further fuel any of the shade or negativity? I’m better than that. And deep down, I’d like to believe that women who try to sabotage others know they are too. Even if it takes them some time to get to better.
My encounters with these kinds of women have taught me a lot about patience and extending grace and have often reminded me of the type of woman I don’t want to be.
I don’t want to be a woman who discourages others and makes them feel like they are less or don’t belong. I don’t want to tear someone down via email, text, in-person, or behind their back. And I definitely don’t want to sabotage anyone. Ever.
I want to be a woman who sees other women thrive. I want to celebrate, encourage, support, and uplift those I’m fortunate to share the same spaces with and see move forward in life.
There’s enough room for all of us to succeed.