How to Handle a Jealous & Hostile Co-Employee

Don't allow jealousy to ruin your workday.
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Human nature ensures that every workplace will experience some level of employee discord. Discovering that you’re the target of a jealous and hostile co-employee can make for unhappy times. It’s difficult enough to stay competitive in the workplace without having to deal with dirty looks and snarls from your team members. Although workplace jealousy exists in many forms and can arise for many reasons, there is only one way to handle it -- the professional way.

    Step 1

    Evaluate your behavior. Ensure that your actions aren’t causing your co-employee undue angst. Maybe you keep mispronouncing her name or interrupting her during group conversations. Sometimes, your interactions with other coworkers can cause conflict. Maybe you seem overly friendly with her crush, or you don’t like one of her best buddies.

    Step 2

    Ask a mutual workplace friend to find out why you’re in the doghouse. Send her behind enemy lines to get the details of the hostility. Get prepared for brutally honest answers. Ensure that your mediator emphasizes your desire to move in a positive direction and willingness to make amends for past grievances. Going on a group lunch date can help you rebuild bonds with your coworker.

    Step 3

    Apply the golden rule. Stay on your best behavior during all interactions -- even when it hurts your pride. While it can be tempting to resort to mean-girl antics, doing so tarnishes your professional image. Sometimes, simple actions such as holding the elevator open or saving a muffin can defuse ill will. Save dramatic eye rolling and scowling for Lifetime movies.

    Step 4

    Limit interactions until the air is cleared. While you don’t have to cower in your cubicle, you also shouldn’t enter her personal space unnecessarily. Doing so only fuels tensions. Always knock before entering her office, even when the door is open. Keep conversations concise and on-topic. Consider moving your work area if your spaces are too close for comfort.

    Step 5

    Focus on your work instead of the relationship. Your workplace responsibilities won’t stop because a workplace feud starts. While solving your personal issues is important, it’s not your primary objective. Keep turning in top-notch work, regardless of personal drama.

    Step 6

    Protect yourself from false accusations. Jealousy and hostility may motivate your co-employee to get you into trouble. Gather the support of reputable coworkers and supervisors who can attest to your character before things get out of control. Explain your side of the story, including attempts to reconcile differences. Document the date, time and specific language used during any troubling incidents between you and your jealous rival.


    • Alert a superior at the first sign of violent behavior.

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