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Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal by Kathi Elster, Katherine Crowley

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CHAPTER 2Meanest of the Mean

In most cases, it’s possible to break a cycle of mean behavior between women and get the relationship to a better place. Then there are the extreme cases. These involve women who see every woman (and some men) as a threat—before they even know her.

These women consider being mean—whether covertly or overtly—to be essential for survival. Unlike the average gal, they can’t tolerate a level playing field. In their world, there are only winners and losers, and they need to be on top. We call these women the “meanest girls” because they’ll do whatever it takes to win.

While most women have the capacity to behave poorly toward other women on occasion, the meanest girls are fundamentally different. You can never really ...

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