Karen van der Berg
It’s no secret: women are complex creatures. As sweet, motherly and fostering as they can be, they can be just as vicious and nasty towards each other.
Especially in the workplace.
Tania van Graan (34) from Johannesburg, an independent labour consultant, says a lot of the conflict in the office is caused by two women.
“I think the fact that women tend to react emotionally and sometimes don’t think logically but irrationally, makes it easier for conflict to erupt.”
Tania regularly has to provide advice and guidelines for women to get along better:
- Make sure that you are not the threatened, paranoid one who sees things in situations that don’t exist. Before you take something personally, first get some distance and ask people who are not so involved whether they experience the situation the same as you.
- Always keep calm, quiet, professional and strong. Smile and refrain from emotional reaction and anger. Always keep your side clean.
- Don’t retaliate with toxic remarks and gossip, because then you look like the toxic one. You have no control over what she is going to do, only over your own reaction. You are always in control of how you are going to act.
- Work hard and act with self-confidence, truthfully and unimpeachably.
- The nasty and inapplicable behaviour of a person who keeps on picking at somebody who is acting correctly will eventually come to light and then she is the one who looks bad.
- Be careful not to play the “victim”. What somebody says about you, does nothing to your character. People who know you well, know who you are.
- Make decisions and empower yourself. You can decide to go away and not solve the problem, or you can change the situation.
- Believe in yourself and stand up for yourself by setting limits.
- If the situation becomes unbearable, start keeping record of incidents, dates, times and persons involved. Keep all electronic communication. Be very careful with what you do on social and electronic media, otherwise it is just going to continue. Always keep a paper trail for in case it becomes necessary to prove anything.
- If the work stress becomes too much for you, try to get rid of it in constructive ways. Go for walks, exercise, get enough sleep and start a hobby. Surround yourself with good relations away from your job.
- Get professional help from a counsellor or psychologist if the stress becomes too much and to make sure that you keep your perspective and have sound ways of handling the conflict.
- If you cannot handle the situation on your own, it should be reported at your workplace through the right people.