In some areas of our lives, we have had reasons to be jealous or envious and we’ve often handled it well but it is difficult to deal with jealousy in the workplace. Of course you’re supposed to wish Mary well on her new promotion even though you worked hard for it but you just can’t get around to do it.
Jealousy in the workplace can occur as envious glances, unpleasant comments, or attempts to sabotage the victim’s success. If left unchecked, such behaviors can result in a discontented work environment. Whether you’re the jealous person or the target of such behavior, overcoming it is necessary to maintaining a positive workplace.
No one likes to admit they’re jealous or envious of a co-worker as it seems childish. The problem is the difficult economy has made our stress and insecurity more pronounced, which can often exacerbate the jealousy we feel on the job. Suddenly, it seems as Mary’s comment about how your messy desk is a health threat seems like an insult.
Envy is a bit different than jealousy because it is usually about wanting something we don’t have. In that case, we may find ways to demean whoever has that which we desire. Those experiencing jealousy or envy often don’t know how to put it off. If you find yourself in such a situation, try:
Setting aside your negative feeling about Mary getting the promotion, for example, and instead think about what she did to get the job. Did she do a better job? Tell yourself you can do what she did and even better.
Avoid Mary as much as possible until you can see something right about her promotion. Maybe you avoid the restaurant she frequents during break. Limit your interaction and communication with her to avoid fights.
Try focusing on another goal. This is the time to focus on the things that make you unique so that when you feel jealous or envious, you can have clear reminders of the things you do well.
The key to making sure such feelings don’t poison your life is viewing the situation as a learning and growing experience. Think about how you can take what you’re feeling and become a better person and employee.
If you’re on the receiving end of jealousy, how you handle it determines your future with the company. By maintaining a high level of awareness, you can detect when an employee is starting to show signs of jealousy and possibly defuse it. For example, a disgruntled employee starts showing signs of dislike toward you. Try to squash his jealousy before it blossoms into full-blown resentment.
An employee might be bent on destroying your good fortune. Try to counter his efforts by not adding fuel to the fire. For example, if he gossips about you, don’t respond by spreading rumors about him. Instead, ignore him and continue being a pleasant and hardworking employee. Write down the date, time and details of each offense. Gather as much proof as possible before reporting the issue to your manager or human resources.
Managers can help to eliminate or reduce jealousy by promoting open communication in the workplace. Mangers must treat all employees fairly and avoid favoritism. Another way to minimize jealousy is to put high performers in mentor roles, which make them targets of admiration rather than envy.
Tackle your feelings now. Learn to question your jealousy every time that it emerges. For example, say to yourself: “Is this jealousy because I feel afraid or angry? Why am I feeling fear or anger here?” When you begin to question what makes you jealous in the moment, you can begin to take positive steps to manage the feelings constructively, without the cloud of negative emotion that typically accompanies jealousy.