A large part of today's workforce consists of mature working professionals
with brilliant educational degrees and impressive resumes. One would be tempted to believe, then, that with such backgrounds there would hardly be scope for jealousy to crop up at workplaces. But it is a universally acknowledged truth: the green-eyed monster can turn into a serious issue for both employees and employers, dividing employees into groups and distracting people from work.
Jealousy essentially arises from a resentful longing for another person's qualities, advantages or luck. Studies in workplace psychology suggest that it is usually aggravated by low self-esteem and discontent with one's situation.
Since workplace equations are very formal and delicate, here are five tips on what you could do to handle a jealous co-worker:
(The author is Co-founder and Head-Business Development, Work Better Training. Follow her @ruchirakarnik)
- Put yourself in their shoes: Once you detect signs of jealousy towards yourself from a co-worker, the first thing you should do is to put yourself in their shoes and envision their perception of you. Have you been promoted recently; are you so friendly with the boss that colleagues feel threatened; is your behaviour too uppity around colleagues? This step will help you assess your workplace personality and see where you can change things for the better. Additionally, it will also help you frame a response if and when the time comes for you to deal with this colleague.
- Take it lightly: Unless the co-worker's jealously stems from your behaviour towards them (which is when the onus to change lies on you), do not get worked up and stress yourself. After all, you got a promotion because you worked hard, not because lady luck smiled at you.
- Talk it out: Go up to this colleague and bring up the topic politely. Tell them you have noticed a change in their behaviour towards you and ask them the reason for it. If it is something that you have said or done unintentionally, tell them so and apologise. If it is something that is not in your hands (like a promotion or a project you bagged), explain how it was your hard work that earned it for you and in turn, encourage and motivate them to work harder. Acknowledge their positive qualities, give them credit where it's due, and stay humble about your achievements
- Document it: There may be cases where the jealous colleague turns nasty and tries to sabotage your work or your image. In such a situation, quietly document each incident. Note the date, time and details of each offence. If the situation turns very serious, you may be left with no option but to report it to your manager or to HR. Remember, it is going to be a case of your word against them. Therefore, gather as much proof as possible.
- Do not stoop low: It is not a good idea to play tit for tat at the workplace and bad-mouth your colleague. Hold your head high and go about your work normally. Do not, for a moment, wallow in self-pity or let their jealousy make you feel insecure.