How to Overcome Jealousy in the Workplace

Avoid gossiping or back-stabbing; it's just not professional.

Avoid gossiping or back-stabbing; it's just not professional.

Don't ever expect to work in a jealousy-free environment -- it's pretty much impossible. In a workplace where some colleagues will move up the ladder and others will not, there are bound to be problems with envy, jealousy, bitterness, anger, and other negative emotions. Whether you're the target of the jealousy or the one feeling it, it's not a pretty ride. But once you admit that it's going to be at least a small part of your work life, you can take steps to reduce the bitter taste it may leave in your mouth.

Make nice. When you have good relationships with your co-workers and bosses, you're all more likely to empathize with each other when things go well -- or when they don't. Women especially benefit when they have workplace allies, according to a study published by the workplace research company Catalyst. So build relationships with co-workers and higher-ups by asking about their families or work projects. This can help get you in your co-workers' good graces.

Open up the lines of communication. If others are seriously jealous of you and it's beginning to affect your career, talk to those people about it. Let them know that you've observed that they might be jealous of you, and then try to be humble as they sound off about their woes. Similarly, if you're the jealous one, talk to the object of your jealousy -- a spin off the "make nice" thing -- to pick her brain about what she's doing to advance her career.

Work harder. If you're jealous of a co-worker who seems to get all the glory, well, she may deserve it. Step up your game to make yourself worthy of that promotion, esteem, or other prizes that individual seems to enjoy. On the other hand, if you're the target of jealousy, it could be the result of your good work. Keep doing what you're doing -- it's obviously working.

Avoid gloating if you're the target of the jealousy. Yes, it's great that you got that coveted promotion, but don't strut around the office, expecting others to share your glee. Stay humble and take steps to be a team player -- someone who wants everyone to succeed. After all, you're all in the same office; the real competition should be competing companies, not your co-workers.

Tip

  • When it comes to moving up the corporate ladder, try to find an ally in the higher echelons of your company. According to the Catalyst study, having a mentor who's a higher-up in your company is good, but you need to go further than that -- you'll also need to get that person to vet you when you're going for that coveted promotion. If you do manage to make it up a rung on the ladder, overcome jealousy by offering to pay it forward; offer to sponsor or vet another co-worker to help them move up, too.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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