She Who Gossips

I hate the phrase catty. I find it insulting, genderist, and diminishing to all women. But, sometimes a bitch and a cat have to get into a little scrape – and rare is the cat who comes out the winner in that battle.

Growing up, my mother always said, “He who gossips with you will gossip of you.” And, this week I was reminded again how true that is – when malicious gossip was aimed my way.

I’ve known this new career position I took would make me a target. It’s high profile with some very sexy perks. But, I didn’t realize how much of a target I’d become, or how closely I’d be watched.

I expected the standards for me would be higher. I expected the workload would be more demanding, and the stress level palpable at times. I knew I would be expected to keep an international schedule: twenty-four seven, three sixty five (with 15 days of PTO tucked in).

What I forgot, in moving from a field where I worked with all men to a universe where I am surrounded by almost all women, was that I needed to relearn the tricks of navigating the high school bullshit that comes from working in a leadership role while surrounded by “girls” just beginning their careers.

I wasn’t particularly good at navigating feminine nuance when I was seventeen. I dealt with the drama by deciding to pretend to be impervious to gossip.

I squared my shoulders, put on my sluttiest three inch “leave-on boots” and did whatever the hell I wanted – while staying firmly on the honor role.

Professionally, that isn’t quite so easy. I am required to “make nice” and I now have to repair the branding damage that some loose-lipped water cooler talk has generated.

Gossip is the behavior of the weak.

My newest career challenge: Playing an adult game with childish “girls” who haven’t learned that real power comes not from whispering in dark corners, but in keeping one’s counsel, and biting one’s tongue.

Powerful people say what they have to say boldly, directly, and openly – and the rest can lick my stiletto as I climb over them on my way up the ladder.