Being a woman working in a career-field dominated by men, I’ve run into countless men afflicted with BMOC Syndrome.
Usually the first warning sign that a male colleague has contracted the syndrome is the aggressive declaration “I want to be in charge” accompanied by the look and body language that says, “Because I am The Man.”
Allowed to run its course the syndrome affects the ego, over-inflating it to an unrealistic level. Soon he is stricken with BMOC Syndrome’s most recognizable symptom – a big head.
As women, our conditioned response to BMOC Syndrome is to back off and let the syndrome completely infect him. But, when we do, we allow the disease to spread – and we become infected too.
In us, the disease presents very differently. Our typical symptoms are a diminished ego, a loss of assertiveness and a smaller voice. Since the symptoms of BMOC syndrome are so radically different in women, our male colleagues refer to it as Little Woman Syndrome.
When I first began working one of my male colleagues had a serious case of BMOC Syndrome. I backed off and let him “take charge.” I developed Little Woman Syndrome.
However, after his second bout of the syndrome I realized his BMOC Syndrome also infected our team and workplace. We experienced chaos, disorganization and poor communication – in other words a big mess.
After that experience I decided to dedicate my life to stopping the spread of BMOC syndrome and its devastating effects on women and the workplace.
I am happy to report that after years of combating countless cases of BMOC Syndrome, I’ve developed a few remedies for both stages of the disease.
As women, we typically encounter the first stage of BMOC Syndrome early in our career when everyone is trying to establish themselves – trying to make their mark. Our infected male colleague becomes offensively aggressive and overly competitive. He may also develop a brown nose and/or puckered lips.
As women, we think we have a binary choice when faced with an infected colleague – we can fight him or back off. As I already mentioned, most of us choose to back off because we don’t want to be as aggressive as him. We then contract Little Woman Syndrome and it can become a disease that infects us the rest of our career.
Some women take the fight option and try to contract BMOC Syndrome in the name of equality. They try to be as aggressive and competitive as their colleague. However, that seldom works because very few women can out-man a man with BMOC Syndrome. Instead they wind up being infected with what our male colleagues call Bitchy Woman Syndrome.
The remedy to BMOC lies in a third option, one that is homeopathic and natural to women. We don’t fight or retreat, we hold our ground. We stay put. We become immobile and use the Power of “No.”
By holding our ground, we don’t allow BMOC syndrome to elevate one man’s ego at the expense of everyone else’s. We keep everyone equal and working as a team. This allows us to say:
“No. You and your ego don’t get to come ahead of this team. We all have ideas and we will express them. Together we will resolve this issue/problem/project as a team. We will work together, succeed and make our mark as a team. So, park your ego and sit down.”
Using this natural remedy for the first time can be terrifying and we would rather swallow a spoonful of cod liver oil. But we have to understand that the reason it is so difficult is because we’ve been taught our natural immunity to BMOC Syndrome doesn’t exist.
And guess who taught us this?
Men with BMOC Syndrome.
Once you take a stand, you are inoculated, you are immune and you won’t back down to BMOC Syndrome again. Something happens inside your head, heart and body and all you can say is, “No. I will not be infected with Little Woman Syndrome just so a man can be The BMOC.”
Once you accomplish that physiological change within yourself you assert yourself. You take on leadership roles. You have achievements for yourself and your team.
It feels wonderful.
But then your success attracts the second stage of BMOC Syndrome.
Men who are pre-disposed to BMOC Syndrome become jealous of your success because it is better than theirs. They don’t believe a woman should have that kind of success, power, authority or achievement. It should reside with A Man so they will try to take your success and claim it for themselves.
In mild cases of BMOC syndrome, they openly challenge to you. As the syndrome progresses they backstab you. In the most severe cases of BMOC syndrome men actively sabotage you.
Before you confront your infected colleague, remember:
- The reason he is attacking you is because you are better than him.
- You are The Achiever who has a track record of meeting goals and objectives.
- You have more clout than him. Management depends on you and your performance.
You can confront him directly and point out his inexperience, “So, we have X problem. Do you know how to fix it?” You hope that if you remind him that he isn’t prepared for the job he will back off.
Or you can use your clout to go your management allies and request that this pip-squeak stop annoying you.
These remedies work in many workplaces. But not all.
In some workplaces, management is deeply infected with BMOC Syndrome. Your colleague knows this so he will turn his brown nose to these infected managers to help him usurp you.
Suddenly, you are removed from your job or role for no valid reason at all – except – “This area is functioning well so A Man has to be in charge of it.”
As a woman it is the most frustrating experience you will experience because you know that there is absolutely nothing you can do. You have no recourse. You can fight or file a complaint but that just leads to being quarantined because they decided you have Bitchy Woman Syndrome.
At this point you have to be careful.
Your natural immunity is down and it is easy to feel defeated and become infected with Little Woman Syndrome. You will get advice that tells you to take on a supporting role. People will tell you that if you work hard and show your loyalty then one day these men with BMOC Syndrome will notice your value.
Let’s be honest – that will never happen.
Instead let’s empower our natural immunity and the Power of “No” that says “I refuse to contract Little Woman Syndrome.”
When you do this, your brain opens up to the wisdom of women.
You realize that the man who usurped you was only after your job title. He doesn’t want the hard work, responsibility and accountability that come with it. He can’t do the job and he knows it. He is counting on you to contract Little Woman Syndrome and keep doing the job while he is out playing golf and taking long business lunches.
You don’t fall for the trap he has laid out for you. Instead you use your womanly wisdom. You:
- Accept that you were kicked to the curb. You lost your role and title. You also lost the work, the responsibility and the accountability.
- Accept that you can work your fingers to the bone but you will never be rewarded.
- Remember that you are the Achiever, not him. He can’t do the job on his own.
Using your womanly wisdom, you become infected with Empowered Woman Syndrome.
Empowered Women don’t do somebody else’s job for them. Empowered Women make men do their damn own job, especially when they usurp ours.
So, when your usurper demurely comes to you, requesting you to “help him out” and keep doing your previous duties, because “You are so good at them and such a good team player,” you say:
“No. You wanted it. You got it.”
Then turn and walk away.
He wanted the title, he got it. He also got the job, the responsibility, the hard work and the accountability.
Many women are afraid to say this because they think he will go running to management, complaining you aren’t a team player. He may do that but only if he forgets that the managers who put in him in your job have BMOC Syndrome. I guarantee you management response will be:
“What do you mean you need a woman to help you? You’re The Man. We expect you to do the job. We put you in that position to prove whatever a woman can do a man can do better.”
So, for your usurper, running to management is a really bad idea.
Remember you set the standard for the job and now he has to measure up to it. Let him figure out how to do it all by himself – after all, he’s The Man.
Meanwhile, enjoy your time being kicked out to the curb and the frilly, girly duties you were assigned. Just keep an eye on your usurper because you know he is screwing up your job and because…he will fail.
Some of my usurpers quit and walked out the door.
Some were fired.
Others just wiggled their way into a new, less demanding job.
Yes, I’ve been usurped a lot. There is a lot of BMOC Syndrome out there. But that’s okay because I’ve contracted a severe case of Empowered Woman Syndrome.
I know men with BMOC Syndrome can’t hurt my career as long as I don’t contract Little Woman Syndrome and help them do my job. I know in the end, I will be asked to take my job back.
Sometimes it takes a bit longer because some managers with BMOC Syndrome try to recruit another man for the job just so they don’t have to admit the best person for the job is a woman. I know whoever they sucker into the job will fail too. I just have to remain patient enjoying my frilly, girly duties and figure out how to fix my screwed-up job when I get it back.
Eventually, I always get my job back.
However, before I take it back I have one condition. I know that when my usurper took over, he asked to be paid more than me and the BMOC managers agreed because he’s The Man. I now want to be paid more than him because I am The Woman, and I have to clean up the mess made by The Man.
As I move back into my office, I blast my victory song for all to hear:
Empowered Women Don’t Give In To Men With BMOC Syndrome.
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