Queen Bees and Chameleons

In college I had a professor who did all of her doctorate research on Queen Bees. It’s a pretty interesting theory that describes how females with power in the workplace strive to keep other females at bay so that their own power and position isn’t threatened.

Because I have such a strange obsession with this theory, I was doing some Google searches and came across another female-in-the-workplace-theory: The Chameleon. Chameleons are much sneakier than Queen Bees who blatantly express their need for control and power. Chameleons pretend to be on your level, then shift roles and throw you under the bus (or whatever metaphor is relevant in chameleon world) to others.

Chameleons smile to your face and compliment you on your shoes, only to use whatever you say against you behind your back (think Mean Girls…)

Regina: Oh my God! I love your skirt, where did you get it?

Girl: It was my mom’s in the ’80s

Regina: Vintage, so adorable.

Girl: Thanks! [walks away]

Regina: That is the ugliest effing skirt I’ve ever seen.

Chameleons pretend to do you favors but there always seems to be a hidden motivation. Why do they get away with this? Because they’re awesome at flattering and putting on a show for upper management. The article that introduced me to this phenomenon puts it nicely:

“What she is doing is working for now because she is a good actress and she has probably ingratiated herself with people in power. In any case they are the recipients of her flattery and probably don’t see the two faced, sabotaging behavior. There are people who can effectively deceive like this. In fact some of them can fool lie detector tests. Like the old adage says, “Sincerity is the key to success. If you can fake that you have it made”.

It’s a pretty interesting theory and while not everyone has a Queen Bee or Chameleon in their office, I’m sure it’s something we’ll all come across at some point.

Do you have one in your office or life now? How do you cope?


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