Tue | Jan 22, 2019

When co-workers envy you

Published:Tuesday | November 25, 2014 | 11:33 PM

If you've attained a promotion or gotten a better job; if you've gotten a raise or special recognition at work, you may be envied by co-workers or friends, who are excellent at hiding it.

If this happens you need to be aware. Further, you must know how to deal with these jealous colleagues. If you dont, you may become an unwitting victim of their envy, as the following well-known tale shows.

It is the famous bible story about a teenage Hebrew boy named Joseph, whose father, Jacob, favoured him above his brothers. To emphasise this, Jacob gave him a regal garment - a multicoloured coat which set him apart as special. This aroused jealousy in his ten brothers.

Joseph didn't help the situation with his constant boasting. Neither did he engender his brothers' affection by dutifully reporting their every shenanigan to their father. This continued for a while.

One day, however, Joseph was sent by his father to check on his brothers' welfare and bring them provisions. They promptly seized the chance to get rid of him by selling him to slave traders. They wickedly reported to their father that he had been eaten by wild animals. That was the end of him.

All along, they had been seething with envy, waiting for a chance to cut him down a few notches. Don't let that happen to you. Learn to read the signs.

defining Envy

Envy is an emotion directed at others, wanting their qualities, success or possession. That's according to Mary C. Lamia, PhD, author of Emotions!: Making Sense of Your Feelings.

She further describes it as a state where you experience yourself as lacking something that will lead you to be admired as much as you secretly admire the person who has the desired attribute or possession you envy.

Signs that a co-worker secretly envies you may include:

n Unwarranted criticism of your achievements or person;

n Sudden avoidance, withdrawal or slights;

n Obvious or subtle signs of victimisation or sabotage;

n Sudden unavailability or unwillingness to help you; and

n Noticeable reluctance to comment on or recognise your achievement.

If you notice these signs, here are some helpful tips for handling the situation:

n Don't ask if the person is envious of you. Most people will deny it, as admitting such a thing is a cause for shame. Instead, ask if there's something you've done inadvertently to offend them.

n Refuse to take someone's envy personally. Don't become angry or resentful. Instead, seek to affirm and reassure the individual.

n Don't boast about yourself to them. Also, don't reveal your progress and achievements, as this may only intensify their envy.

n Include them in important projects. Actively support their careers.

n Recognise and commend their achievements, to others.

n Watch for any attempt by an envious co-worker to denigrate or undermine your efforts. Don't be naÔve. Protect yourself.

n Don't hold yourself back from striving, in order to avoid others' envy. It's their problem, not yours. Your job is to excel.

n If all your efforts fail, avoid them. Uncontrolled envy can turn people into dangerous


n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. glenfordsmith@yahoo.com