Many times in my career I have gone toe to toe with the sunken face of jealousy disguised as a woman. Mind you, I have both received this facade as well as orchestrated it, which has evoked a thought process around how deep this theory penetrates. Innately it is not our fault that as women we can choose to circumvent the “glass ceiling Olympics” through animosity and loathing towards others in our tribe. Some of us were brought up to notice every flaw in ourselves and continue to dress these adversities up with bows and pearls, as opposed to accepting them. Between playing make-believe and the possibility of being betrayed by previous women in our lives, you can begin to paint the vivid picture of distrust, misfortune, and possibly envy.
Here we are strategically honing our skills and climbing proverbial ladders all to say “we can do it too.” This thought process not only lives with us but in us, as a man-made concept. We are put in a petri dish of emotions with lack of understanding and pressure to “do better than her” all while seeking to gain friendships and the acceptance of others.
Throughout my journey I have been manipulated, hazed, adored, and hated. This is commonly the contract we have agreed to as women in the business world. Within the past year I have entered a new corporation, taken on a senior level position, and coached various individuals who have either felt supported by me or directly threatened. My intent has been the same to all, but the interpretation of my approach has varied between each.
This realization was hard to digest, but best explained by the co-authors of Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional when Things Get Personal, Katherine Crowley and Kalthi Elster who interestingly state:
“women are complicated. While most of us want to be kind and nurturing, we struggle with our darker side – feelings of jealousy, envy, and competition. While men tend to compete in an overt manner – jockeying for position and fight to be crowned “winners” – women often compete more covertly and behind the scenes. This covert competition and indirect aggression is at the heart of mean behavior among women at work.”
As a direct result of my experiences I have concluded this; Workplace competition is a very specific formula of variables. Personal insecurities combined with a lack of trust, and an organization’s inability to acknowledge these unhealthy situations, equals a demolition of one another. However, it starts with us as women. We must maintain a genuine character and be open with our insecurities. We must ask and listen and hope to understand each other’s inner workings. We must stand alongside one another in this crusade on equality. We must not let each other be the reason why we fail at this. Leave that pitiful game to the misogynistic men of this world.
Lastly, to all my women working on themselves and trying win life’s survival of the fittest, here is my oath:
The only thing I ever wanted to create was an environment that you felt safe in, in order to thrive. In turn I asked for a graceful helping hand that spoke of the same promise. May we shake upon this new found order?
Written by Brittni Alahmar