Our mothers taught us that if we can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all. So why can women be so nasty to each other?
Nasty comments are often made in a subtle way. We have all been given the mean-spirited, back-handed compliment along the lines of, 'Oh, you are so adventurous wearing that colour. I don't know anyone else who would get away with that'. You feel awful because you know you have just been insulted.
Meredith Fuller, author of the book Working With Mean Girls says that women give subtle put-downs to make themselves feel better and it typically stems from jealousy.
Women will often criticise your looks, parenting style and lifestyle decisions because they lack self-awareness about what is going on inside themselves.
Fuller says, "There is incredibly judgemental behaviour among women. Things are seen as right or wrong, good or bad, rather than just different".
If someone says something nasty to you, Fuller has four tips to deal with it:
- 1. Don't let them get away with those subtle throw away lines. Speak up. Say something like, "What do you mean?" in a puzzled tone. Call them on it. What you're implying is, "That's not OK".
- 2. When you make a change in your life that you know your friends might not necessarily approve of, be really clear within yourself about why you did it. So whatever someone else says, it doesn't take away from your intention. Remember that people can't diminish you.
- 3. There's no point in playing their game and getting into an argument. Don't sink to their level with retaliations like, "Oh you're one to talk. Look at you!"
- 4. You don't have to spend your time with people who make you feel uncomfortable, or who are resentful, nasty or jealous. Try and pick friends who are supportive, positive, assuring and enabling. What you'll find is that most women can celebrate success.
It's best to be up front. Sometimes women can be overly stressed or having a bad day, and just don't realise what they are doing.
If you are worried about a friend's behaviour or have something you think you should discuss and don't want to come across as nasty, Fuller recommends:
Acknowledge the friendship. Say something like, "We've known each other for a long time. You know how much I care about you and I'm just wondering if it would be akay if I made some observations? I trust that I can do that because I know that you'll take them in the way I mean it. If it's not useful, then I know you'll disregard or ignore them. But it's coming from a place of my concern for you." It's important to do the pre-amble. Your friend will then understand that what you are saying is from a place of love and respect.
Be honest and kind about your observation. Something like, "I've noticed over the past three weeks, XYZ has happened and I am just wondering if you are okay". Or, "How you feel about XYZ. Can I do anything to be supportive?" This might open up a good dialogue.
Fuller says, "It's important we respect and value our friends. If you notice that you are being nasty, ask yourself why. And if others are nasty to you, ask yourself if you have perhaps been neglecting your friends, and this is the way they are trying to get your attention."
A little bit of emotional intelligence goes a long way. Trust your instincts and stand up for yourself.
Your say: How have you dealt with nasty women?
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