How to turn your workplace jealousy into something productive

Written on May 01, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

When you feel jealousy in the workplace, it’s important to ensure it doesn’t become an issue long-term.

Danetha_Doe“It can be common, and even expected, to feel some sort of envy or feelings of insecurity when you see other people around you get ahead quicker or get opportunities you feel you deserve,” said Danetha Doe, owner of Danetha Doe Consulting Group.

Doe said whenever she starts to experience feelings of jealousy, she recognizes it “as an invitation for me to improve a particular aspect of my life.

“I see it as an opportunity to double down on a goal of mine,” Doe said.

Although you can’t always control how you feel, you can control how you act, so it’s important to tread carefully with feelings of jealousy. When it comes to interacting with someone you have jealous feelings toward, Doe stressed the importance of maturity. Although it might sound appealing, don’t act petty, and certainly don’t try to sabotage anyone. Congratulate your coworker or peer on his or her success. And instead of stewing over someone else, focus on what you can do to work toward your goal.

“People remember someone that has a positive attitude and is doing their best work,” Doe said.

But if you are experiencing intense jealousy, you might need someone to whom you can vent your frustrations. Choose that person carefully; chances are you might say some things you don’t entirely mean in the moment because of your strong emotions, and you need to be sure you’re speaking with someone who won’t judge you for your raw feelings.

Doe suggested finding a neutral party, such as a friend or family member, when you need this outlet. Although a work peer might be your first thought, stop and ask yourself if that’s the best option. You might regret speaking to him or her later, depending on how emotional you were.

“And then once you get your feelings out without a filter, you can refine the word choices that you’ve used and really have clarity around your feelings,” Doe said.

It’s not always about something the other person has done. Like anger, Doe said, feelings of jealousy and envy are rarely about one thing. Maybe seeing someone promoted at work brought up insecure feelings you already had about your current position. Or maybe your relationship with your boss hasn’t been great lately and you’re feeling envious of your coworker who can always make her laugh.

After you’ve had time to reflect, consider going to your manager or a superior for feedback. There is one question Doe said to ask that shows you as a mature, growth-minded professional:

“What are ways I can step up to show I’m a good fit for this in the future?”

That question shows your willingness to work toward something and your openness for improvement. Be receptive to the feedback you receive.

“As you see these feelings popping up in the future, you get more perspective in terms of knowing what to do,” Doe said. “Just because an opportunity didn’t happen for you then doesn’t mean there isn’t something right around the corner.”

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