Marketing Eye

Jealous that someone is climbing the ladder faster than you?

They say that jealousy is a curse. I tend to agree. It hinders your judgement and affects your ability to see clearly - and that's just the start.

The green-eyed monster is a mental cancer (B.C. Forbes quote), and can be a huge culture killer, leaving employees that are affected by it disengaged and unproductive.

Smaller organizations feel the pinch a lot more than a larger organization which can handle jealousy or envy if you like, by moving people from one department to another, or using human resources to intervene.

Employee emotions, and in particular, envy, are disruptive, and affects employee moods, organizational morale and can lead to a poisonous culture, that ultimately destroys the fabric in which the foundations of culture is built in the organization.

Emotions are a powerful instigator of behavior, and envy, the unmentionable emotion, is perhaps one of the most pervasive and powerful of all the disruptive emotions that affect our corporate environments. We are not used to talking about envy in our politically correct society or in our workplaces. Yet it is there.

The two-way swing of jealousy with co-workers that may go all the way up the tree into management, creates theatre. Different scenarios can play out and if it gets out of control, your brand and business may suffer damage.

There are many reasons for envy to manifest itself in the workplace: Competing for scarce resources or limited budgets, and vying for important projects, are commonplace situations that can trigger predictable envy; Coveting attributes and qualities a colleague has that another might lack or simply not think about how fragile some people are; Losing a promotion to someone better qualified can also be a trigger for envy.

Many of these situations are normal occurrences and cannot be avoided. They are a part of our workplace scenarios and many human resources practitioners have, at one time or other, witnessed a manifestation of these situations.

If anyone has seen the show "Billionaires" on television, you would note that there is an in-house psychologist. When I watched a few episodes on a recent trip to LA, I had an ah-ha moment. That is genius. Imagine having a psychologist at your disposal that you could actually go and talk to at any time about anything you are feeling? The workplace, if utilized correctly, would benefit immensely, be more productive and achieve greater results. 

No-one likes someone talking behind their backs, or misinterpreting what they say or do. Sometimes, it feels good when you have a success, or even to share a failure (as a means of getting it off your chest). 

How do you deal with a co-worker that is jealous of you?

  1. Look at the bigger picture: Your co-worker may be going through personal things in their life where they have lost confidence in themselves and may feel as though they will never achieve what they have set out to achieve. By being with you, or seeing you achieve something that they would like to have achieved for themselves, they are only sinking more deeply into their own hole of insecurities. Instead, perhaps try to be mindful of what you share with that person or others in the orbit of their sphere, and leave the 'big talk' to people who can handle it emotionally and be supportive of your achievements.
  2. Never pull them up on it: By pulling them up on it, they are not only going to deny it, they are going to tell people you are an 'arrogant arsehole' or worse. So, unfortunately, it's something you have to live with, and be the bigger person. 
  3. Start damage control: I have seen people's careers ruined by others that are jealous of their achievements. People who didn't 'get the job' because the 'talk around town' was that they were not a good co-worker, or were egomaniacs, fortunate sperm or self-obsessed - when in fact, they were competent, nice people. One person, if they tell enough people who lack emotional intelligence enough bad things about a person, can make it stick or at least have an affect greater than the immediate office environment. Damage control means going out of your way to be nice to them and everyone else, and keeping your head down in the workplace. Work hard, and make work work.
  4. Always be the better person: Never fall to their level. If someone goes to tell you what they have said, shut it down by saying that you don't want to enter into the noise and with the greatest respect, wish the person the best. Never, ever say a bad word about that person, because you are sinking to their level. If people believe what that person is saying, then that says more about them than it says about you. In life, these people work it out eventually, but maybe not in the time you are in that particular job.
  5. Smile: You can't change people. They can only change themselves. All you can do is be the best version of yourself and constantly try and improve in all aspects of life. What someone else has to say about you is none of your business. Life is short. But don't let gossip, jealousy or mean-spirited people affect what you think of a company or your job. Get the most out of a bad situation and move forward, continuing on your own journey.

Jealousy is a hard emotion to deal with, and when it raises its ugly head, it can be disheartening. Stand tall, be strong and keep reaching for the stars.

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