Beating Your Work Jealousy
Feeling jealous at work is nothing new for most of us. Work jealousy is destructive and unpleasant to experience. It can also be detrimental to your working relationships, career and mental health. It’s normal and healthy to feel envious of people at work from time to time. But if jealousy is playing a large role in your day to day emotions, it’s time to kick it into touch.
If you are typically a jealous person in other areas of your life, it’s likely that this emotion will figure in your workplace personality too. But some people struggle specifically with negative jealous emotions only at work.
Most people experience the emotion of work jealousy as a self-critical internal voice. Despite your best efforts to think positively, this internal voice provides you with ‘negative comparison triggers’ that make you question yourself and your abilities.
Common Work Jealousy Comparison Triggers
- “Why was she promoted and I wasn’t?”
- “Why is he paid more than me?”
- “The manager takes her ideas seriously but doesn’t listen to anything I say.”
- “I work harder than him, but get less recognition.”
- “She is better at that than me!”
- “People think I’m no good at my job.”
- “Everyone at work is friends and I don’t feel part of that group.”
- “He is more popular than me at work.”
- “I’m not given enough credit for my experience.”
- “What I created was better than his/hers, but I received less praise.”
Jealous Feelings Vs Jealous Actions
Feeling work jealousy isn’t a pleasant experience, but the real problems occur when you start to act out your feelings. Letting jealous behaviour play out at work can really damage your professional credibility, affect your working relationships and leave you feeling isolated.
When you feel jealous, it’s important to dissect that feeling:
If you are worrying that someone is paid more than you, consider any reasons why this may be. Perhaps, they have more relevant experience, or maybe they have additional qualifications.
If someone at work appears to be more popular than you, perhaps it’s because they get involved in more social activities, or take more time to help colleagues with professional issues.
Step back and observe your feelings objectively. Remember, thinking and reality are different. Just because you think something is happening, doesn’t mean that it necessarily is happening.
It’s very rarely a good idea to translate your jealous feelings into actions. If you feel that you aren’t getting the recognition you deserve, you may wish to schedule an appointment to discuss the issue with your manager. However, taking matters into your own hands and accusing/questioning your colleagues is not recommended!
Why We Feel Jealous
Remember, jealousy is a very common human emotion. Most of us feel jealous from time to time. Many of us feel jealousy on a day-to-day basis. Feeling jealous, doesn’t make you a defective person.
Work jealousy is a deep-seated emotion. Jealous feelings grow over time and can take years before they start causing problems. Past work experiences can certainly affect how you feel in a new role. If you’ve been treated unfairly at work in the past, it can cause you to see new colleagues in the same negative light.
Most jealous emotions are thought to stem from poor self-worth or insecurities. It’s true that you use jealousy, to a certain extent, to protect yourself. Jealousy makes you hyper-sensitive to any threats. Being able to detect threats before they affect you is a way of minimising the damage they cause.
Some psychologists believe that jealousy is a self-sabotaging belief system we use to protect ourselves from rejection and failure. If we’ve already thought of all the reasons we shouldn’t succeed, we aren’t going to get any nasty surprises.
Ten Tips for Beating Jealousy
Some people are naturally more jealous than others – in every area of life. However, even the most jealous people can learn to control the emotion. Here are our top ten tips for beating your work jealousy:
- Prioritise your self-development. Pursue the training you’ve been putting off and get those qualifications under your belt.
- Speak to your manager if you feel you are undervalued.
- Keep a journal and record your jealous feelings.
- Analyse your work jealousy. Are those feelings always justified?
- Redefine your role at work. List the positive contributions you make.
- Take up a new sport. Physical exercise is great for getting rid of work jealousy demons!
- Accept your feelings are a product of every emotional experience you’ve ever had. Give yourself permission to feel negative emotions and try to explore their source.
- Talk to a trusted family member or professional counsellor. It’s probably wise to discuss this with people outside of your workplace.
- When work jealousy feels overwhelming, try to clear your mind and meditate. This stops the feelings from escalating.
- Practice gratitude: write down three things you are grateful for every morning and keep the note somewhere you can see it all day. This is a great way of focussing your mind on what you already have rather than what you want.
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