How to Cope with Jealousy in the Workplace

Jealousy in the workplace is all too common. Receiving acknowledgements or promotions in the workplace is a joyous occasion, there are others in the workplace that may not take to kindly to the advancement of others. The green eyed monster can rear its ugly head in the form of office gossip, rude or unwarranted negative comments and attempts to sabotage a person’s career.  If the problem persists, it can lead to conflicts in the workplace, professional reprimands and termination.

There are ways to cope with jealousy in the work place.

Causes of Jealousy

Jealousy is the feeling of resentment toward another person due to the person’s rivalry, success or advantages. It is also driven by fear and insecurity. Jealousy occurs in the workplace due to the emotions of people who think that “it should have been them” vs the other person, feeling as though the person did not deserve the promotion or feeling as though they were not afforded the same opportunities to prove themselves in order to receive the promotion or acknowledgement. There are many reasons for jealousy to manifest itself in the workplace; competing for scarce resources or limited budgets, and lobbying for prestigious assignments or appointments, are common situations that can cause jealousy in the workplace.

Ways to Manage Workplace Jealousy

Although you want to fit in at work and not seem like an outcast, staying to yourself is not a bad idea. Clichés at work can cause unwanted tension, stress and unprofessionalism in the workplace. You can avoid this by:

  • Not engaging in office gossip
  • Maintaining a professional attitude
  • Maintain productivity
  • Accept others and their flaws, as they are human
  • Consult with Management or HR if necessary
  • Set aside your negative feelings about the jealousy
  • Prove that you were the right candidate for the promotion

Leaving a job due to tension in the workplace is not always the right move. After all, there will be jealousy in any workplace regardless of where you are. Do not allow the negative feelings of others to stop or delay your career or success with an organization. Keep in mind that you earned that promotion and the company saw something in you that could assist the company in moving to the next level. Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments and do not allow your career to be jeopardized due to the jealousy of others.

Managing Jealousy in the Workplace

It is important for management to understand that jealousy in the workplace is alive and well and extremely common. Although Managers cannot totally alleviate the feelings of others and their jealousy, there are ways to manage it before it gets out of control. When considering a candidate for a promotion or other acknowledgement of their success and contribution to the company, make sure that it is well deserved. Nothing causes tension worse in a workplace then promoting someone that truly did not earn it. To ensure that you are being fair with your selection, it is important to be able to prove or document the contributions, savings, obstacles that the person has conquered, successful implementations, etc. This will eliminate any speculation of unfairness in the workplace.

Communication is also very important in the workplace. Making objectives, standards, roles and requirements is very important. This will provide all employees with the opportunity to prove themselves and allow their work to speak for them. Once the promotion has occurred and an employee still feels jilted from the selection, this is the opportunity for mentoring, training and development to occur. Have a one on one with the employee to go over their accomplishments or lack thereof with the company and set out a game plan for improvement to enable them to be a viable candidate for the next promotion. Provide them with the tools that are needed to ensure that they reach the next level. Set the employees up for success within the organization. This will not only benefit the company, but it will ultimately allow the employee to work more diligently and make them feel good about themselves that they are contributing something toward the company.



3 thoughts on “How to Cope with Jealousy in the Workplace

  1. I cannot tell you how many times that I have been the “victim” of workplace jealousy and sabotage. It happens all the time…especially if you are particularly educated, (first job) or good looking (last job). The worst situation is when your direct BOSS is the one with the jealousy. It is difficult to communicate your concerns when you are discussing it with the person who is supposed to “have your back”, but instead is the one who is stabbing you in it. I am experiencing the problems I have even until today, because, if and when you do leave the job to get away from the tension and problems, the person who caused them will probably be the person who will have to give you a reference for you to get your next job. And, I guarantee you that it will not be a good one.

  2. Carla,
    I agree with all you said. I once had a boss, some of my co-workers would tell me how they would dress down because she would be nicer if they did, or how nobody will contribute ideas because all too often they would be shot down only to be re-proposed as her own. Others told me of her bullying and control tactics.
    I would very often get letters of recognition, something that should make one feel good, but I came to find out for every compliment I got, a chiding would follow. I did my best to rise above and protect myself from her hyperbole and sabotage.I knew it was her insecurity. Sadly she fired me, and when I went to HR and the general manager (2 men), I was left with the feeling of being petty and immature. I asked management to consider 360 evaluation so they could learn the truth, they told me they didn’t have time…..but I guess have the time to be unemployed. Live and learn.

  3. Two quotes come to mind:
    “It does not matter what other people say or do. What matters is how I choose to react and what I choose to believe about myself.”
    “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”
    If you are strong enough in your self-confidence to live by these quotes, no matter how jealous the other person is, you know you did your best.

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