Dealing with a Jealous Co-worker

From Resume and Career Advice from Debra Wheatman
September 12, 2013 - 1:00am

Workplace jealously is common.   Many issues can trigger jealous feelings in co-workers, such as promotions, salary differences, office location, awards, or praise from a senior manager. How do you know you are the focus of a jealous co-worker?  In most cases you will notice that they treat you differently. They may be aggressive or uncooperative.  In extreme cases, jealous co-workers will attempt to sabotage you or spread false information about you. How do you deal with the situation?   Here are some tips. Control Your Reaction It is very tempting to tell all of your work friends what a jerk the jealous person is.  Retaliation by down-talking the jealous person or seeking the sympathy of others is the wrong choice.  It makes you seem like you don’t have the emotional intelligence to handle the situation like a professional.  This issue is between you and the jealous person. Leave everyone else out of it. Try to Mend the Relationship                   Privately, speak with the co-worker.  Do not call them out for being jealous. The word itself is incendiary. Also, you are not certain that they are jealous. The only thing of which you are certain is behavior that you have observed.  In a non-judgmental, non-aggressive way, recount the behavior that you have noticed.  Ask if there is anything you can do for the two of you to get past any issues between you.  It may not solve the problem, but at least you have made a sincere attempt to repair the relationship. Cover Your Assets If the behavior continues, protect your career.  Documentation can help when memories are foggy.  Use email to document important discussions. If you feel discussions between you and the jealous worker get twisted later, have a third party in the room. Don’t announce your intentions or reasons.  Simply include the other person so they can be there to provide additional insight or lend a hand. Build Strong Relationship Office-wide It is nice to have an ally to stand up for you. Building relationships with your peers, staff, and managers is always a good idea.  If you always treat people fairly and with respect, it will be very difficult for the jealous person to speak negatively about you.   The others won’t believe it because of your sterling reputation. Going to a Higher Authority If you feel the problem with the jealous worker is getting in the way of office performance or your ability to do your job, talk to your manager.  Avoid using descriptions of the employee.  For example, don’t call them jealous or deceptive.  Instead talk about the actual behavior that you have witnessed, the impact on the office, and positive steps you have taken before you brought the issue to your boss’ attention. If you find yourself the target of a jealous co-worker and ignoring the situation is not working, follow the above tips.   The jealous person’s action is emotionally-based. They are attempting to disrupt your success. Throughout your career, you will face difficult people. The key is not to allow this person to take you off track.

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