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How to deal with jealousy at work

Jealousy is incredibly common in the workplace, and left unchecked it can quickly poison whole departments. Knowing how to deal with it means identifying the cause and ironing out issues before they take hold.

People can feel jealous at work if someone is more competent than they are, if they see someone promoted and believe they deserved that promotion, or if they perceive that managers are favouring some people against others.

This can result in insecurity, which could then lead to attempts to sabotage: talking behind the other person’s back and trying to bring them down. And when people become over-focused on someone else’s success, their own self-respect drops and they constantly compare themselves which just fuels the jealousy even further. It’s self-perpetuating.

If you recognise this behaviour in yourself, you have to talk to your boss about how you feel – diplomatically. Don’t go in there shouting about someone else having more than you like a sulky teenager. Explain how you feel and be prepared to give your reasons. If your work is consistently of better quality and you perform better than the other person, have examples ready to discuss and ask what you can do to put yourself in line for promotion next time. Turn it into a positive.

Dealing with jealous people as a manager or recognising it in a colleague requires a lot of empathy. Talk to them about why they’re feeling this way, assure them they’re valid, discuss their options and aspirations and support them to achieve them. Often, it just takes a little bit of notice and interest in a person to get rid of any bad feeling.

There are a lot of people in this situation at the moment, with some being furloughed and others still in work. If that’s you, limit your interactions with the people that are making you feel jealous and be as professional as you can . Most of the time, jealousy comes from insecurity so focus on situations that you can deal with and try and walk away from those you can’t.

If you’re a manager or have a jealous colleague, look at the bigger picture. Jealousy is rarely borne of malice and is more often than not the result of someone feeling over-worked, under-appreciated and thinking someone else is getting a better deal or favourable treatment. Little acts of kindness and attempts to understand where the other person is coming from can nip it in the bud.