How do you handle jealous coworkers?
Like every other professional, you’ve no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work.
You’re quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. I remember one time in my previous job when a particularly colleague found fault in every single thing I did. I later heard from another colleague that she was only jealous because our boss said he prefers me to her because I’m more hardworking than she is. That really made her dislike me.
Here’s what to do if you find yourself in that same scenario
- Never tell them they’re “just jealous.” It’s true that your co-worker is “just jealous,” but saying it out loud at work ultimately undermines your case for being a likable person around the office. It may seem counter-intuitive not to verbalize the most obvious part of the problem, but doing so won’t help matters. Practice copious amounts of self-editing.
- Do some damage control. The jealous colleague will try to set you up to take you down, even if it’s “merely” through harsh. If this co-worker tries to imply (wrongly) that you’re lazy or with the work, then do the opposite by bringing your A-game to everything you do. If this colleague spreads the word that you’re stuck up, then make a special effort to take an interest in others without going over the top. Basically, diffuse the perception this co-worker is trying to spread about you as someone who doesn’t deserve to be where you are professionally. Here, watch this clip. It’s awesome.
- Find an ally if you can. Chances are good that at least a few of your colleagues aren’t buying what the jealous co-worker is selling about you. You may already have a few friends in the form of a superior or an employee in another department who’s been there, done that.
- Think about things from a jealous co-worker’s perspective. I know, it’s his or her problem, right? Ignore the haters. It’s important, however, to look in the mirror and envision how a jealous co-worker might perceive you. It doesn’t mean that you have to change, but this step can help better frame your response when you must deal with this colleague. This step requires assessing your workplace personality and going over conversations you’ve had with this co-worker.
- Have a sense of humor. Seeking out the lighter side of this woeful workplace scenario can save your sanity on the job. It doesn’t mean joking about it openly in front of a jealous colleague, which could very well backfire on you. Rather, mentally insert a laugh track when necessary throughout the work day.
- Document it. On a serious note, it may be advisable in some cases to (quietly) take notes on the most egregious workplace manifestations of co-worker jealously that might be impeding your job progress. It’s one thing not to be invited to join a group of jealous colleagues at the break room lunch table; it’s quite another to be actively sabotaged on a project out of pure jealously.
- Always remember that you’re a good person. An unremitting undercurrent of workplace jealously can start to take a toll on your self esteem. Jealous colleagues can make you question yourself, underrate or undersell your skills and abilities, and make you debate in your own head whether you’ve truly earned all of your accomplishments. You don’t need to start this debate with yourself; your co-workers are already happy to have it on your behalf. Hold your head high, be kind to yourself and focus on the work.