They get the hottest men, have the most friends and make the most money. Being a Mean Girl has its perks. Knowing how to deal with one does, too!
During my junior year of college, I attended a cliché Halloween club party with my sorority sisters who all dressed in army costumes. In reality, it was just camouflage lingerie and any black tights/tutus/heels we could find. This club party was notorious for being a hot mess and an equally good time. To no surprise, I was kicked out for underage drinking by 11pm (Hawkeye the Bouncer saw my one sip of rum and Coke), but I managed to sneak back in and wash the Xs off the back of my hands. As I was lying low in the bouncing strobes, I spotted a cute guy by the bar. Target identified.
However, there was a minor problem: he was talking to another girl. While he seemed like he was having a decent time, I thought I could show him a better one. After sensing a lull in their conversation, I marched over in my heeled combat boots and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Is that your girlfriend?”
“No,” he laughed.
“Then dance with me.” I grabbed his hand and pulled him away.
We spent the rest of the night together, and aside from losing my army hat on the dance floor, it was exactly the kind of Halloween I wanted. It wasn’t until recently that I thought more about the girl he left at the bar—I wondered if she was a stranger like me who wanted more than five minutes of barstool banter with this cute guy.
But her intentions didn’t matter once I decided to be proactive about my night and establish myself as the alpha. A beta would have settled for someone else. A beta would have waited her turn. I was officially the Mean Girl and would not have it any other way.
To me, a mean girl is someone who goes for what she wants. She sees obstacles, but not immovable objects. She takes accountability for actions and understands that she—and no one else—has ownership of her future. What others only think, she speaks. What others only say, she lives. A mean girl is assertive, unashamed, and resolved to make things happen. She is not catty without a cause; rather, she’s strategic about her priorities and will hustle to guarantee her success. She doesn’t ask for respect—she demands it.
As a caveat, a mean girl doesn’t need to tear someone else down to rise. She is focused on her own uphill battle and admires those who do the same. That being said, a mean girl is one hell of an enemy (and ally) to have. With her unyielding will, she plays to win.
My mean girl tendencies have proven beneficial beyond the guy department—I go for girls, too. When I was a senior in college, I had a major mean girl crush on the Visual Merchandising Director of ModCloth after hearing her speak at a seminar—she was a fiery go-getter with a successful writing career and sharp personality. I knew I had to get some one-on-one time, so I cold emailed her and asked her to grab coffee. A few days later, we were sipping lattes in a cozy Pittsburgh café.
On our coffee date (*squeal*), I asked her one piece of advice she would give her younger self. She told me to negotiate on job offers. Throughout her career of hiring dozens of employees in the fashion industry, she never once had a woman push back on the initial salary. As a mean girl, it’s especially advantageous to ask for what you want since so many women don’t. In a study conducted by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever on Carnegie Mellon MBA students, only 7% of women negotiated their salaries compared the 57% of men. The study also showed that people who don’t negotiate their first salary lose an upward of $500,000 in earnings by the time they are 60.
Since hearing that piece of advice, I have negotiated every offer I’ve received (unsuccessfully) and will continue to do so regardless of whether it works out in my favor. Mean girls are persistent. They don’t stumble upon opportunity; they ask with open hands. It’s not easy being a mean girl but when you invest fully in lifestyle where you call the shots, the world feels at your feet—even when it’s not.
While the alpha female pool is small, it’s likely you will butt heads with a fellow mean girl at work or in your personal life. Owning the lifestyle is as much about acting as it is reacting, so here’s are a few tips to navigate a relationship with another alpha female.
Dealing With Alpha / Mean Girls
Learn from her
Every mean girl has her weapon that enables her confidence. Regina George had her popularity, which gave her the power to coast through gym class on the shoulders of high school boys and forbid Gretchen from wearing hoop earrings.
Figure out your mean girl’s forte, and use that to improve yourself. It may seem counter-intuitive, but try asking her advice on one of your weaknesses or insight into one of her strengths. This accomplishes two things: 1) it eases the tension by coming from a place of humility and genuine respect (this is important because faux flattery is cheap and offers no ROI) and 2) it sets you up to eventually crush her at her own game.
Sure, smoking the competition is an amazing perk, but a true mean girl always keeps her eye on the prize: Doing whatever it takes to better herself. By having a mindset of personal development instead of comparison, you are able to learn from someone else’s strengths and shortcomings as they relate to your own goals. This kind of thinking makes you a competitive version of yourself, and satisfies your personal standards of success.
Don’t take it personally
When dealing with mean girls at work, it can be tough to separate your feelings from your professional relationship, especially as society adopts a culture of work/life integration and it becomes more acceptable to kick back shots with the person who completes your annual review.
But don’t be fooled: there is still a line. While it’s common for people to befriend coworkers, know where the territory changes from business to personal. Scale back your face time with said mean girl, and interact only when necessary.
Whether you’re dealing with a mean girl at work or outside the office, remember to never take her interactions personally. People’s behaviors are a projection of themselves, and their actions often have nothing to do with you. This is why you see the same people wrapped up in drama 24/7 and the same people shining in any social group they join. Who someone is to you is a sample of who they are to everyone. At the end of the day, people are exactly who they decide to be.
Of the people I interact with regularly, I have effectively phased out everyone who has a negative, or even neutral, impact on my life. I actively choose to have positive interactions with people that matter to me. If you find that you can’t escape mean girl conflicts, then maybe it’s time to look in the mirror.
Let your reputation speak for itself
Beyoncé is a case in point because she slays the music industry with a halo on her head. She has established such a solid reputation as a drama-free, powerhouse entertainer that she is untouchable to any half-baked sloptart who tries to challenge her.
Be like Queen B. Instill so much value in your name that you don’t give mean girls the slightest chance to bad mouth you. When you think about it, words only hurts when they’re true. For example, if someone called me a hot mess, I would be upset because I am truly not an organized person. However, if someone called me lazy, it wouldn’t affect me at all. It would be as ludicrous as someone telling me my name wasn’t Connie. I am so sure of my work ethic that a jab at that would make the other person lose credibility. Give yourself the foundation to be that confident in your nature, and let the mindless gossip roll off your shoulder.
If you can’t beat them, join them. It never hurts to have a circle of mean girls who challenge you and share the vision of being unapologetically ambitious. However, not everyone will support your lifestyle of being a self-proclaimed mean girl. Some may be jealous or intimidated by your confidence and try to bring you down with their own insecurities. But never dim your brilliance to spare those who can’t handle the light—tell those fools to invest in some Ray Bans.