Collecting my experience in the business world, I couldn’t help to notice that there is an enormous difference between professional relations between men and women. This is something that bothered me, and especially in my career beginning made my problems. I was conflicted with colleges pretty much with not so high educational background as mine was, with the colleges who spend more time on gossiping and intrigues instead of doing their jobs, with women colleges… I was young and I directed all of my time in achieving the business results – it was the only thing I was concentrated on and I didn’t realize at that point how wrong I was. In the end, I had to quit because there was too much stress involved. I was working too hard and everything I did was without a flaw – the better I was, the harder it was.
Later on, I changed companies. Even though I was smarter after this experience, it was obvious that in those companies situation was pretty much the same. The only variable that didn’t stay the same was me. Yes, I was still doing my best in the interest of the company, but this time also in the interest of my own – I had my eyes all the time wide open and I was ready for `competitor attacks`.
Working with men has always been a positive experience. We were helping each other, learning from each other and there was mutual satisfaction if we grew intellectually. Women on the other side – keeping the information for themselves, giving knowingly false information and then gossiping behind the back as result and so on…
Since my 13 years long experience showed that this is a custom problematic in business circles I asked a psychologist to write me an analysis and answers why does this happen? Why do we have to spend more time on watching out not to get stabbed in the back instead of doing our best – fulfilling the tasks and goals?
This is the result…
Why do women in business circles gossip?
In many businesses, a lot of the problems come because of the games that people insist on playing in the workplace. Some people like to make others feel small, treat them badly, focus a lot on power plays, on putting others down, and so on. And, unfortunately, many of those who engage in these behaviors are women who might act this way fro their position as managers, co-workers, directors, and so on. This means that these individuals and others around them are not fully concentrated on their tasks and their work, and it might even be harmfulr to their productivity and performance. So, why do some women act in a cruel manner or why do they focus so much on power games? Let’s take a look.
The idea that women should be tough
The first reason that can be identified is the idea that women are more nurturing and softer by nature. This is a prevalent idea in society that can hurt a woman’s career or her reputation. Some women who are aware of this idea might choose to act in opposition to it. They might feel that as women they should be very careful of showing any signs of weakness or softness or they will be taken advantage of. This often translates into behaving in an excessively harsh, cruel manner that might ultimately be as counterproductive as a “weak” approach.
In relation to the above, many women in business (and elsewhere) are also prone to insecurity, as are their male counterparts. While many people deal with this insecurity by attempting to become better, others migth choose less mature ways. When women with this problem feel threatened by the competence or abilities of another colleague, they might actively try to limit their growth or put them down in order to “secure” their own position. Mean behavior can be a reflection of inner insecurity.
Past learning experiences
Many women who choose to engage in power games and behind the back plays might do so because they have learned this to be a part of the workplace. This can happen to individuals that spent time in toxic work environments or who were the targets of such games before. This teaches them that these games are a part of the workplace and that they need to participate in them actively to avoid being targets themselves. They might bring these experiences to new workplaces and replicate the dynamic there because it’s what they have learned about workplace dynamics. People that have spent most of their working years in dysfunctional workplaces are especially prone to this.
Generally speaking, women are discouraged from being direct and assertive in most societies. Women are encouraged to be, instead, diplomatic, submissive, and easy to reach a compromise with. Some women are taught this more than others, and women who have had a strong influence of these ideas might feel that direct conflict, confrontation, or open discussion are not proper tactics or are not tactics that she should be using. This leaves the woman with few direct options to influence the decisions being made or communicate what they want. For example, say that the woman is a manager who is dissatisfied with one of the hires for her department. If the woman has assertive communication skills, she can approach her boss and talk to her about this situation. However, if she feels unwilling to use open communication, she might resort to passive-aggressive or underhanded tactics to deal with this situation. She might be rude or frosty to the hire, she might “forget” to loop them in, and she might engage in gossip behind the hire’s back. This becomes a tactic the woman uses because she does not have other tools or does not believe that she should openly discuss the situation.
A minority of individuals who engage in this type of behavior might be narcissistic or have traits associated with narcissism. Some people with this type of traits are very preoccupied with their status, their achievements, and other aspects of their life to the point where they cannot tolerate others being seen as better, being praised, or receiving a benefit for their work. They might try to minimize the accomplishments of other people and use underhanded tactics to prevent them from being recognizing or improving their work in order to remain as the sole “stars” of their environment. This can also often be associated with a very fragile self-esteem that depends on nobody being better than the individual. However, people who have such a strong need for recognition are rare.
Means to an end
In some cases, this behavior is not a reflection of personality traits or ideas but rather a way to achieve a specific goal. For example, going back to an unwanted hire, a woman might choose to engage in cruel behavior to drive the hire away if other tactics have failed. These types of behaviors might be seen as a legitimate way of reaching a professional goal or a personal goal. This is especially true if the person engaging in these behaviors tends towards unethical behaviors in general or does not care much about the morality of the situation. Some women in business can be quite ruthless in this area and use a variety of dirty strategies to get what they want. Some businessmen and businesswomen might be more willing to go behind people’s backs to get ahead.