In my last post I talked about the Queen Bee. I said at the end of the post a few words on not becoming one. In this post I want to elaborate on how avoid it. It’s easy to let ourselves become negative towards each other. However, the world does not have to become dog eat dog or in this case women undermining other women.
One of the first things to do is identify the negative behavior. Why do you want to undermine another woman? This may take some time to identify, but it’s worth it if you want to do better. For example, let’s say when you started your career, having a Bachelor’s degree made you the best of the best. Now a younger woman starts at your company with a Master’s degree and gets a higher rank and pay than you did at the same point in your career. The Queen Bee would find a way to undermine the younger woman, like making it harder for her to advance. The better option is to identify why there is insecurity and better yourself. Gain some confidence and go back to school or even learn something from the younger woman. Turn the energy inward instead of outward.
Another thing to do is actually talk to the woman you feel negative towards. How many times have you made assumptions about someone without actually finding out if they were true? Don’t let the gossip mill paint the picture for you. It’s harder to be negative about someone if you get to know them. Ask them about themselves and think of ways to help them and they may help you in return.
Additionally, by talking to the person straight up, you might find some of what you see as inexperience. I’ve seen many instances where inexperience was misunderstood as malicious intent. For example, if the new hire has never worked in an office environment, don’t assume she’s just trying to mess things up for you by committing a few faux pas. I remember back to my Master’s practicum days a few years ago I was working with a great group of professional women. One of the group members said to me that it was nice not having to train someone on how to act in the office (I had been working in an office environment for over 10 years at that point). That made me think back to my first year and how much I had to learn before I was fully “trained”. I had a few people who I upset during that time. One in particular did the Queen Bee thing and shunned me. None of it was malicious, just learning the ropes.
None of this says that there aren’t women who do bad things and try to trip you up. Those women you handle differently and may be a topic for another post. The moral to this story is to be kind to other women and help whenever you can. Don’t become a Queen Bee. Whatever you decide to do is how people will remember you. I’d rather be thought of as a woman who is not afraid to lend a hand. As one of my college professors said in his class introduction, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.” Being kind does not mean you are weak.