Own Jealousy Before It Owns You: strategies when jealousy bites (hard)

You appreciate Josh. Or, at least you did until last week. It still stings that he upstaged you when you both spoke in front of the senior management team.

You like Tori. You just didn’t expect her to get the promotion you wanted.

When Susan asked you to join her after work for an impromptu dinner celebration, you said “sure.” “So, what are we celebrating?” you asked as you slid into the restaurant booth. When she told you the size of her raise, you lost your appetite.

You’ve been bitten by the green-eyed monster.

Left unchecked workplace jealousy erodes job satisfaction. It can prompt you to do regrettable things, from making snide remarks that tarnish your reputation to treating a talented coworker badly, harming a work relationship that could help you in the long run.

If you find your emotions tied up in knots by workplace jealousy, try these strategies.

Own it
If you shove feelings, even dark ones, down, they fester. You may not want to admit to an inner cringe when good things happen to someone else; however, until you own your jealousy, it owns you.

Accept your disappointment, insecurity or hurt. Hold your feelings up to the light, talk to yourself about them and listen. You’re your best friend. When you let yourself feel them, feelings dissipate like a dark cloud turning to gray mist.

Identify the trigger
What triggers your jealousy? Does someone else’s success have implications for your career?

Often, jealousy masks fear – of losing out because there isn’t enough to go around or of being left behind when others excel. Unravel the fear, and jealousy dissolves.

Even if a coworker got an opportunity you wanted, it isn’t the only opportunity out there. Might you have the same opportunity in six months, or elsewhere? Perhaps it’s time to move on. By reassessing the situation and taking action, you reaffirm your own future.

Don’t self-trigger
Someone else’s job fortunes can soar, only to crash a year later. Don’t measure your success against what anyone else does or has, because you can always find someone else to compare to who has more or does better at something.

You have your own career path. Don’t let a missed opportunity make you feel worse about or angry at yourself. Instead, consider what you’re great at, and how you can make your next success happen. What will you find? – positive emotion shoves out negative emotion.

Move forward
Congratulate the person who got the promotion or raise. Don’t indulge in snarky, behind-her-back comments or give her the silent treatment, either of which make you look petty. If you show support, instead of spite, toward a coworker star, she may gratefully work to boost your success.

Don’t let another’s success get you down. Use it to inspire and challenge you. Let those who succeed serve as role models and learn from what they did or how they did it. If someone less talented won an opportunity you wanted, ask yourself what you need to do differently to be recognized and rewarded. Did a peer upstage you? Redouble your efforts and power forward.

Has the green-eyed monster bitten you? Pull the fangs right out of your neck:).

© 2020, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions” (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at lynnewriter10@gmail.com or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.



6 thoughts on “Own Jealousy Before It Owns You: strategies when jealousy bites (hard)

  1. The galling thing I’ve had happen in this area, is that I’ve been with the company for longer than the collection of alternate applicants. And, because of that, I’ve mastered most, of not developed most of the fields and tasks that they will be supervising – across multiple departments and disciplines. Ergo, I’m a ‘firefighter’ for the company, able to fill in and/or take care of problems company-wide.
    And I’m told I’m ‘too valuable’ to pigeon-hole in one department.
    Worse, or yo add to that, the particular promotee was both very vague and not clear in his goals and assignments and expectations, but VERY explicit in his criticisms of the work being done – a macro, yet micro-manager. I’m credentialed in certain areas and he was contradicting the way things are supposed to be done, or ways that have proven to get best results.
    It generated an extremely pedantic and harsh working environment. And it created an ‘assess, review and revise’ or ‘consider this an exit interview’ meeting with the CEO and HR.
    Fortunately, experience and long-proven and highly-valued experience caused an adjustment of management style. The new manager was told that ‘some things are better left alone as they’ve proven to work well as-is.’
    It took a while for the dust to settle but he learned from the experience. And I learned that if I really wanted to ‘move up’ I’d have to move along.

    1. Hi, Dan, I appreciate your comment and the emotion it carries. I don’t see you as jealous, more as caught in a difficult situation.

      1. Your reply is quite right on. In fact and retrospect, I really wasn’t jealous. I was under appreciated for the lack of recognition and display of appreciation (oh, you are too valuable to pigeonhole – but not worthy of the recognition and degree of input/influence that your institutional knowledge and expertise brings to the ‘decision-level’ table).

    2. The worst jealousy is that which kills a loving relationship.
      When my lover first showed a tendency towards this I told him. “ when you have those feelings, tell yourself, Jody loves me. She loves me. “. He was awful to travel with and constantly obsessed over imaginary relationships he conjured up for me. It broke us up. But years later we became good friends. He told me those words had helped him. And gradually, with work, and too late for us, he got a handle on himself And his jealousy. He says he still works on it.

  2. Lynne, I love the punch and concreteness of your prose, among other things I Iike about it. your image of the green fangs biting your neck is striking and hard to forget (even if I didn’t manage to completely quote the wording correctly). Great advice–we all need to remember these tactics!

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