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Careers- Are you suffering from Jealousy?

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Kareen Cox, Career Writer

Imagine this: your co-worker has just received a significant promotion that will see her getting a huge raise, a company car and a corner office, complete with her own personal assistant. You know you should feel happy for her, and deep down you are, but you are also feeling jealous. You're thinking, why couldn't it have been me?

Having moments of jealousy at the workplace is pretty common. However, it is rarely discussed because most persons tend to feel ashamed of the fact that they're jealous.

Jealousy in the workplace can be attributed to three main factors. They are:

A highly competitive office setting. Some employers encourage an environment where employees are constantly competing with each other. For some persons, this highly competitive environment can be exciting, but for those persons who are more laid-back in their approach, it can foster feelings of inadequacy and jealousy.

An unfair boss. Many of us have heard of bosses who openly choose their favourite employees, have cliques, or encourage gossiping among staff. This type of behaviour can create a very uncomfortable office environment and can result in employees who are outside the manager's circle feeling demoralised and jealous of those employees who receive favours from the boss.

High-achieving colleagues. Every office has that one person who always works hard and does very well. Whether it is receiving a promotion or moving ahead in qualifications, this person always seems to be successful in whatever he or she does. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many workers tend to envy those among them who are constantly doing well.

Most persons are not aware of the impact jealousy and envy has in the workplace. Employees who are on the receiving end of this negative emotion tend to face great hostility at the workplace. In many cases, they are ignored, shunned, or harassed by their envious colleagues.

On the other hand, those employees who are feeling jealous are more likely to display traits that make it even less likely for him/her to be promoted, such as constantly complaining and gossiping. In fact, uncontrolled feelings of jealousy - and the behaviour that accompanies those feelings - can make you a workplace outcast, affect your productivity and your quality of work, and result in you gaining a reputation as someone with a negative attitude.

The best way to overcome jealousy at the workplace is to start by acknowledging that these emotions usually stem from feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and resentment.

People are usually jealous of someone because they have not been able to do what that person may have done. Instead of feeling resentful, try to identify the traits within the successful individual that you admire, and, where possible, imitate those traits. You may find yourself moving up the corporate ladder in no time.

So the next time your colleague is successful in any of his/her endeavours, be the first to congratulate him/her. Work hard on creating your own success story and place jealousy and envy where they truly belong, in the garbage bin of regret and missed opportunities.

Kareen Cox is the resources coordinator in the Career Development Services Department, HEART Trust/NTA.