I have heard people say, ‘Children can be so cruel,’ in regard to bullying as if it is only children who can show meanness. It is all too common for adults to be mean to each other. In this short article I am specifically thinking about bullying in the workplace. We hear a lot about sexual harassment in the work place but it is quite common for women to show bullying behaviour towards other females with whom they work. Sometimes people dismiss this by saying it only happens to those who are oversensitive, passive or 'weak' as if that makes it alright. I don’t agree that it only happens to those who don’t assert themselves. Even if it did, I certainly don’t think this makes it acceptable.
I think of one example. There was a competent woman who had been the receptionist and responsible for the accounts in a small business for about twenty years. She was confident, helpful and had great people skills. When the business was sold she got a job in a different company. About six months later I saw her in the supermarket during work hours. She said the other women in her new workplace had been so unpleasant she had decided to leave the job. Her husband had supported her decision saying they could manage without her wage. She was now enjoying volunteering at her grandchildren’s school where she felt valued..
One hears many stories of women ganging up on one of their female colleagues and excluding her or making snide comments or acting badly in other ways. There are anecdotes of woman on woman bullying on various websites. This type of bullying can have serious psychological consequences and can lead to mental health issues. Sometimes the woman being bullied will take action through the company's anti harassment procedure but the result isn't always positive. Some woman suffering from bullying quit their job and this can result in financial hardship especially for a single woman.
Women have the ability to support each other and provide positive feedback and encouragement. They can confide in each other and be there for each other through the rough times. Female friends are great to celebrate with and share life’s triumphs. It seems a great pity to me that some women are just downright cruel to other women in the workplace or in other social situations.