Asking For a Friend | Chapter 23
Advice from Babe to Babe
Ever had to deal with uncomfy or toxic coworkers? This week’s advice column is for you. The BWH Advice Gurus offer tips and tricks on navigating unwelcome jokes from male cohorts, making less than your cubicle-mates, and walking away from those who don’t serve you. Read up, and don’t forget to submit your own questions in the form at the bottom of the column!
No, honey. Make a scene. That’s bullshit.
I feel like you have to say something. I work in a very male-dominated field (military) and learned that the “old boys club” won’t go away unless you make it. Look at is as if you put in the work and deal with the possible awkward encounter so women coming behind you can just show up to work feeling like an equal, and not the possible butt of a joke.
—JODY JOYNT, BABE #41
I am your girl. Up until a few months ago, I was the one woman in a group of 30-plus engineers. I found that speaking up in the moment is the most effective way. On several occasions I’ve had harsh words in a group setting, calling someone unprofessional and inappropriate. It showed the sexist guys I wasn’t going to stand for it, and made the nice guys realize standing idly by isn’t acceptable. Stand your ground, you got this!
—THAIS LAGE, BABE #151
Bring it up now! In my experience, when you ask for a raise during a scheduled evaluation, it still takes time (up to many months) to actually make it happen. I would get on it now; plant the seed for why you deserve a raise, back it up with points and evidence and have a definitive number in mind. Then, if they don’t actually make it happen and your yearly eval comes around, you have some leverage to push harder for that raise. Good luck!
Now that you know this, it will only breed bitterness, and that’s not good for anyone. Set the meeting now, express your concerns and be direct in your ask.
As a manager, this conversation has never boded well with me. Salary and compensation conversations with coworkers should try to be avoided because it never benefits anyone involved, and usually does not end in a raise. My recommendation would be to have a conversation with your manager, but be mindful of how you approach it. Just because you have similar responsibility and work experience doesn’t mean it warrants comparable pay. Compare what you bring to the table versus what this peer brings to the table, have a honest conversation with your manager about what you need to do to improve and grow, and be transparent that pay is important to you and you want to know what they require to make more money. After this conversation, if you feel you aren’t getting the feedback and development required to progress, it may be worth addressing more directly. Often, my employees have realized there is a blind spot they aren’t privy to that they needed to work on—and it benefited both of us when they did.
—LINDSAY ENGLAND, BABE #76
That moment of awkward pause/tension that happens when someone makes a bad joke? Create those. If telling them directly doesn't seem like your cup of tea, there is so much that can be accomplished by nonverbal cues and body language. If you have to be in a situation with them and they start exhibiting some of their toxic behavior (being negative, gossiping, complaining, etc.) you can simply create that space for an awkward pause to let them know you're not going to contribute to their behavior, and then change the subject. It's uncomfortable for both of you for a second, but at least now you're in control of the moment and can steer it in a more positive direction.
—MOLLY SLICKER, CONTRIBUTOR
It depends on the kind of toxicity. If it's a conversation about politics or religion, I'd probably just walk away. If the toxicity is just negativity, you can follow their negative comments with, "But what do you like about [whatever they were being negative about]?" Sometimes, folks don't realize they're focusing on the negative.
—AMANDA HANDLEY, CONTRIBUTOR
I’d encourage you to be upfront and direct with them. A simple, “I find your (action or words) inappropriate and I’d appreciate if you don’t (talk that way/act that way) while with me” goes a long way. You’ll likely squash the behavior and make them feel dumb in one swoop!
Don’t underestimate the power of leading by example. Often times, a coworker engages in toxic conversations because they are encouraged by others or others entertain that type of conversation. Set the example by shutting it down, ensuring that you are offering a positive perspective, and holding them accountable. Not only does this create a better work environment for all, but it’s a good way to showcase your leadership abilities. If that doesn’t work, remember there is nothing wrong with walking away and refusing to engage. Witnessing another coworker refusing to participate in toxic behavior sends a very strong message to all.
—LINDSAY ENGLAND, BABE #76
Until Next Week,
—THE BWH ADVICE GURUS
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!