Unfortunately, sometimes it can also be like high school, complete with cliques, bullies, and name-calling. Although that old school adage claims that "words will never hurt me," in truth, it can be pretty painful when someone calls you a bitch — or worse. Ahead, seven women speak up about the worst thing someone has said to them in the workplace — and how they responded.
I am the boss. I'm not bossy, I'm the boss.
I was called a bitch once to my face, and it was someone who worked under me. She was a younger woman. It was confusing in a way, because I didn't expect to have a woman call me that, and it hurt for a while, but I realized I was just doing my job. I was giving her feedback. I actually shared this story with my executive coach recently, and she was like, 'Wait, you've only been called a bitch once? You might need that to happen more.' So I guess it's part of being a woman in business.
I try to educate my team to have more empathy and compassion, so we can avoid those knee-jerk reactions, like: He's a dumbass, she's a bitch. I also think a lot of young women need to get more comfortable being the boss, saying no, guiding people, and not waiting. We wait our entire lives, for a guy to invite us to prom, to invite us on a date, and I think it's time to stop waiting and maybe grab the bull by the horn." — Anonymous, 37
My dad always said, 'You can never misquote silence.'
Out of all the words in the dictionary, ever, that would not be one I would ever attribute to myself.
He would catch my eye and say, 'Hey sweetheart,' and wink.
I definitely felt weird every single time it happened. I never said anything, I never stopped it. I mean, I didn’t like it. It was kind of condescending, and it actually made me feel like a secretary, which I was not. He would never use those words if I were a male at my age, and he definitely wouldn’t call another woman older than me and in a higher position than me 'sweetheart.' But I don’t think he meant any harm, even though I do think it’s harmful in some ways. If I were in a different place at a different time, like if I was more of his equal, I would probably let him know I didn’t like it somehow. I’m not sure how I would, though, because 'Don’t call me sweetheart' is kind of aggressive." — Megan, 25
They started saying that I have 'retard strength,' which is offensive on so many levels.
Around three months in, when the other butchers felt comfortable enough with me to 'joke,' they started saying that I have 'retard strength,' which is offensive on so many levels. I guess it's supposed to mean that you don't look capable, but you end up being capable, like someone who looks doughy and dumb turns out to be capable and strong. It wasn't super easy to talk to them about it, because once you do something like that you become the workplace bitch, and in the past I had brought up comments at other jobs, and it didn't help. It doesn't make it better because there's nobody on your side. So I just let it slide off, because I had to, but that was around that time when I decided to leave." — Ash, 28
At my last job one of the partners would call me 'princess,' and it always made me feel really uncomfortable.
A dude at a work party told us that our job was to 'stand here and look pretty.'