I used to be a workplace mean girl.
It's a time of my life that I'd like to erase. And while I can't change the past, what I can do is own my mistakes and use this experience for good by starting a conversation around the topic.
Susan Skog, author of “Mending the Sisterhood & Ending Women’s Bullying,” takes an excellent in-depth look at women shunning women from the workplace to the playground, and sheds light on the stories of real-world, everyday women who have experienced bullying.
Throughout "Mending the Sisterhood," Susan breaks down:
the root of women's conflicts
how to own your power and create positive female relationships
strategies for putting your health and happiness first
how to recognize your own bullying
I’m honored to be a part of Susan’s book, finally using my words for good instead of knocking other women down.
Below is an excerpt of my story...
“I am ashamed to say, at one time, I was a workplace bully. As I look back years later, I realize the insecurity and fear that drove my ugly behavior was a lack of really experiencing life with my eyes open to the world rather than constantly being obsessed with my own. I surrounded myself with other negative people and I allowed my emotions to be sucked into the drama.
Completely out of my true character, I became more and more harsh to co-workers and purposefully stirred up unnecessary crises in the workplace. My atrocious actions would be as simple as suggesting to a co-worker that we should start baking an excessive amount of baked goods for the office so people would get fat, to setting up a fellow co-worker to embarrass herself in a meeting in front of our superiors.
I left a traditional office environment after having children and nothing in my life was the same again. My body, my soul, my attitude, my hormones, my marriage, my friendships… everything had changed.
I experienced severe post-partum anxiety after childbirth and lived in a state of stressed panic for a year.
During this intense time of anxiety attacks and the isolation that comes with motherhood, I spent a lot of time behind closed doors raising my son and just thinking.
I came to acknowledge that I acted this way out of fear and insecurity and that I was not seen as the best employee at work.
And when I chose to take my issues, tuck them away, and attempt to bring other people down so I could be seen as the best, I spiraled into a rotten individual. I chose to hang out with other negative people who fueled the fire.
Misery does love company…
After a solid year of self-reflection and the exhaustion that comes with being a new parent, I looked at my son and realized I didn’t want him to have an anxious, selfish, judgmental example as a mother.
I believe in a higher power and started pursuing peace in the hopes of letting go of the senseless idea that other women were in competition with me.
A gentle voice in my heart said, “You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. How much they could be hurting…”
I felt extremely guilty for the way I acted in my last position and sent a message to one of the women I knew I hurt the most. I humbly apologized for being a rude and horrible person.
As I typed the message, I knew that there was a chance that this woman would tell me to “stick my apology where the sun doesn’t shine,” and she had all the reason in the world to do so.
But she didn’t.
She thanked me for the apology and I, after that day, made a commitment to never assume, never judge, and to stand up for those who are being treated unjustly.
I set a promise to renew my mind every day, make up for the ignorant way I acted long ago, and look for ways to apologize to the people I have hurt.
If I can find them or I run into them, I am instantly compelled to apologize. It was uncomfortable the first few times and not all of the women accepted this olive branch, but I don’t blame them.
I lost their trust and all the apologies in the world won’t change the hurt.
A solution to woman-on-woman bullying cannot be changed overnight. Bold, fearless women are needed to set an example and stand up for the small injustices we see every day.
excusing yourself from gossip is a good start
apologizing when you’re wrong
not being scared to step away from toxic friends
If you are a bully, be patient with yourself during this time of change. For years, I had to practice and check in with myself before, during, and after conversations. And I still do.
Because we're all human and not perfect.
But we can strive to be better.
This is a revised excerpt from “Mending the Sisterhood & Ending Women’s Bullying” by Susan Skog. Available on Amazon.