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Stabbed in the Back: Dealing with Coworker Jealousy

Tags:  Communication Skills, Difficult co-worker, Job misery, Competition, Teams, Jealousy

According to a 2007 article in Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/prnewswire/feeds/prnewswire/2007/09/04/prnewswire200709040900PR_NEWS_USPR_____AQTU047.html) there are six signs that you're too competitive:

  • Vacations make you nervous because you're afraid of what will happen or who will ""outshine"" you while you're gone.
  • You see your coworker as more of a threat than a resource.
  • You talk bad about coworkers to your boss more frequently than you should, possibly indicating your insecurity.
  • Colleagues rarely share information with you – a sure sign of distrust.
  • You rely more on e-mail than face-to-face meetings because relationships have deteriorated.
  • You take full credit when often times it was a team effort.

Competition is at it's finest when two sports team go toe-to-toe on the playing field and one comes out victorious. Or when students strive to win a debate, a spelling competition or secure the lead in the school play.


Unfortunately, sometimes out of this competitive environment, beyond the desire to be the best, jealousy – your own or someone else's – may spring forth.


The dictionary describes being jealous as ""feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success or advantages.""  Unlike healthy competition, jealousy is a negative emotion that can inflict damage on both the sender and the recipient.


Understanding this reality and how to deal with it says a lot about who you are as an individual as well as a team player. Here are some things you should consider if jealousy takes a stab at your back. 


Rise above. If others feel resentment and jealousy because of your success, it really is their issue to deal with. The best thing for you to do is rise above any pettiness and not play into inappropriate talk or behavior. This doesn't mean to act superior, it does mean not to inflame the person. Instead live up to the opportunity you have been provided by showing why you deserve your success through hard work, professionalism and humility.


Work harder. If you see others getting ahead and wonder, ""What about me?"" that is the time when you need to reconsider what you are doing to achieve. You have to be willing to put in the hours and demonstrate you have the skills and expertise to succeed. In addition, look at why others are outpacing you and see what you can learn from them.


Teamwork is best. The most important thing for all concerned to keep in mind is that teamwork is always the best plan. Managers need to ensure that they are treating all employees equally when balancing the workload, handing out assignments and doling out recognition. Team members should keep in mind that working toward the success of the entire team is the ultimate goal, even if someone rises above the rest. When this happens it is up to you to find out why your coworker got the promotion or shined brighter than everyone else so that you can better understand what you need to do to improve your chance at career success.


Whether it is you or someone else that finds career success, there is no room for jealousy in the workplace.

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