What to Say to Someone Who Got a Job Promotion

Congratulate your colleague when she gets a promotion.
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Being recognized for your hard work with a job promotion is one of the biggest rewards you can receive at work, but when your co-worker gets a promotion instead of you, it can be a tough pill to swallow. Sour grapes in the workplace can lead to personality conflicts, so congratulate your colleague in an appropriate manner, even if you're a little disappointed.


    Companies notify their staff members of promotions in various ways. Perhaps your co-worker told you about the promotion, your supervisor mentioned it during a meeting or you received an email notification of the news. The news might come as a shock, especially if you were hoping for a promotion, but react as calmly as possible. In a 2009 "New York Times" article, consultant John Beeson recommends keeping your comments to a minimum until you're calm.


    The correct way to address a co-worker who has received a promotion is to offer your congratulations. Even if you feel you're more deserving of the promotion, being congratulatory prevents rifts from developing in the workplace. If you're not close to the person, a simple "Good job" or "Way to go" greeting is sufficient, but if you work closely with the person, offer congratulations and well wishes; for example, "You deserve it and I know you'll do a great job." Even if you don't feel happy for the person, pay your respects -- especially if you'll now be answering to your former colleague.


    Although people often appreciate congratulations in person, you can also email your greetings if it's more convenient. Some people offer congratulations through actions, such as buying a card, flowers or paying for the next coffee run. If you don't have time to visit a store to select a greeting card, consider an e-card or printable card, which can brighten someone's day. These types of congratulations can make your greeting stand out.

Next Steps

    If you were in the running for the promotion but didn't receive it, ask for a meeting with your boss to receive an explanation. Management consultant Jane Goldner to the "New York Times" not to use the meeting to complain and second-guess the manager's decision. Instead of asking why you didn't get the promotion, ask how you can be the best candidate for the next round of promotions. Learning how you can improve at your job conveys the message that you take your work seriously and want to excel. Bloomberg Businessweek recommends getting over the perceived snub quickly and focusing on your work.

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