Blog: How to deal with a jealous co-worker

Employee Relations

How to deal with a jealous co-worker

Sometimes you gel well with your colleagues, and sometimes you can't see eye-to-eye. What do you do in the latter situation?
How to deal with a jealous co-worker

Ever sat across a colleague who despite knowing the truth prefers applauding someone else instead of you? Or when you bag a project, do you often get to hear that “you were in pure luck”? Or, if there’s an important meeting they deliberately keep you away by lying to you or telling you it isn’t so important? Well, just so you know this colleague of yours may as well be experiencing ‘jealousy’. It stems from the feeling when others get what they covet. 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines jealousy as “feeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages”. Certainly, they feel an unrest in the deep recesses of their mind which manifests in a rather unfavourable behaviour towards you, either in public or private. But, why should you bear their cross when all you should be doing is continue being proud of your achievements. In any case, if you have to deal with them on a day-to-day basis here’s what you can do to keep yourself out of harm’s way. 

Any misunderstanding, lately? 

Of course, none of us go to work to make friends, but if you are lucky then you may end up making a few. These friendships, however hit a rough patch when you either end up working on the same project or competing to bag one. Clearly, some people are fiercely competitive/ambitious and may not want to leave any stone unturned. This can be misconstrued as jealousy or may be it is exactly that. But, then more than each other you have to beware of outsiders. They make the most out of this mess and create misunderstanding between two (now former) friends. It results in confusion and collision which is mentally taxing. The best way out is to sort it out. Don’t leave misunderstanding unattended. 

Don’t get scared by their bullying

In meetings or in general, they may try to project your ideas and thoughts as theirs. When this happens you have to fearless and disallow them from stealing your spotlight. You may have let it go once or twice, but if you let them sprint every time then be warned that they are likely to take your silence for a yes. But, is that what it really was? At first, you may rationalize that credit will come where it’s due or that the management will see through the façade, but it may not necessarily happen. Speak up and own your idea. It is their problem that they aren’t as inventive as you. They probably need to up their skills to get rid of the sense of inadequacy sparking jealousy in them. 

Have a conversation

If despite their jealous vibes, you notice that they are trying to remain cordial then try to talk it out with them when the doors are still open. Probably they are fighting these irrational pangs. Say, “I’ve noticed changes in your behaviour; is it because I did/say to bother you” or “Is there any way I offended you, I would like to apologise”. It’s not guaranteed that they will speak up, but your initiative may put them at ease. 

Nurture relationship with colleagues

You may sense that your colleague is backbiting you or hanging out more with your confidantes and colleagues you lunch or dine out with. But, that shouldn’t affect you. Don’t ask them to take sides. You aren’t in high school anymore. Maintain your calm and sideline thoughts of them maligning you (unless there’s enough evidence they are) out of your mind. Continue to meet them at office get-togethers or off-sites or on other office days as you would. There is no need to stoop low like your jealous colleague and in any case remember not to keep a score card. It’s absolutely juvenile. 

Don’t throw them under the bus

Just because they are hostile doesn’t mean you have to mirror their behaviour. Just be your usual self and work as you would with any other colleague. Both of you have a meeting with the client? Show up on time. Have a presentation to give? Express how the two of you can work collaboratively and discuss who would say or do what. Watch their back if they get stuck somewhere for it will force them to think of you as an adversary or your arch enemy. 

Praise thy neighbour!

Minimise confusions if you work in the same team or even if you have cross-functional roles. If required, go out of the way to help them if they get stuck. It will push them to rethink their attitude towards you. And, even if they don’t there’s no harm in helping a colleague, right? Besides, if they do well at work, show genuine appreciation. Nothing will disarm them than you praising them before other people. 

Jealousy breeds jealousy and you don’t want to be caught in that loop. So, despite your conscious efforts if they don’t mend their ways and try to sabotage your position or your relationships with people then speak to your manager. They should be able to help you sort it out. But, if things go out of hand you can approach the HR as well. 

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Topics: Employee Relations

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