Dear Dr. Lisa:
I am not sure what to do. There is a woman I work with. I am not sure why, but she is not a fan of mine. We don’t work directly together and so it is not as much of an issue on a day to day. Every now and again when she is trying to show strength and knowledge, she puts someone down and it is often me. I think her efforts are more self-promoting than against me necessarily. I am an easy target and she takes me out every time. I am surprised because she seems to be an advocate for women, just not for me. What should I do?
Work Can Be a Jungle
Dear Work Can Be a Jungle:
You are right – working with different personalities requires dealing with hidden agendas that are sometimes just based on what is perceived as good for that person. It is unfortunate that your female colleague does not see the destruction and damage she is doing to another woman in the organization. If one gets parity, then we all get one step closer to it as a gender. We cannot afford to put each other down. We can and we should provide each other support and feedback on how to be better, and put downs as a way of self-elevation has to stop.
Here’s what you might do. Take a meeting with her and just call it out directly. Share with her that you are not sure why she seems less supportive of you. Be ready with clear examples. Give her room not to be your friend and fan. That is not your request. Your request is that she can refrain from making damaging comments that make it harder for you to find success in the organization. Invite her to share feedback if she has it. Sometimes this direct approach will open up a dialogue that yields valuable insight you would not have gotten otherwise. Talk to her. That is your best path to peace.
If she is unyielding and continues to disparage you, then you could go on the offensive and share with others that this person often sees things differently than you. Be careful not to put her down, but let others know that she makes comments that are not helpful and you have addressed it directly with her. You have accepted that the two of you will disagree, but you don’t want to leave a negative statement hanging around without addressing it with those who are privy to it.
Good luck in creating solidarity!
P.S. Your theme song is, “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War.