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How to deal with a mean girl

Mean girls pop up throughout life – in the playground, on campus, at the office. Sometimes it seems as if there’s no escaping their catty ways. If you’re currently dealing with a mean girl of your own, we have some advice to help you deal without getting into a full blown fight.

Woman being bullied by mean girl

Among other friends

Often there’s a mean girl among a group of friends. She could have always hung out in your circle or maybe she was brought in by someone else. No matter where she came from, she’s mean and she isn’t afraid to one-up you any chance she gets. She’s manipulative, catty and goes out of her way to make you feel stupid in front of your other friends. In other words, she sucks.

How to deal: This is a mean girl you can confront. We don’t suggest starting a full blown fight, but do calmly tell her that her actions are not appreciated and that she isn’t acting like a friend at all. If she laughs off your concerns, simply don’t hang out with the group when she’s around. Make plans with smaller groups of friends who you actually do want to spend time with – minus the jerk.

At work

Dealing with a mean girl at work isn’t easy. She’s always there, taking credit for your ideas, smiling in your presence and then saying something snarky behind your back and worst of all, angling for all the same projects, clients and promotions as you are. If this was the playground, you might have been able to fight fire with fire (or at least “accidentally” get mud on her new dress) with this mean girl, but this is the real world and you don’t want to get fired.

How to deal: Do not at any point get into a verbal altercation with her. It can easily backfire and you don’t want to give this mean girl any more ammunition. Instead, ensure that any ideas you have are kept to yourself and given to your boss directly so she can’t take credit for them. Otherwise, simply stay out of her way, act civil and don’t let her get to you.

In the family

Sister-in-law from hell? There’s a mean girl in a lot of families, and if you seem to have inherited one by marriage, don’t panic. We know it’s tough. She mutters insults under her breath, gives you backhanded compliments and cuts you off every time you try to get a word in edgewise. She’s no fun to have around the table, but calling out an in-law for offside behavior can be tricky.

How to deal: Ideally you don’t have to see the family mean girl often (just on holidays and special occasions), so if that’s the case, we suggest taking the nod-and-smile approach. Don’t ever give her the satisfaction of knowing she’s getting to you.

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