Of course you’re supposed to wish Jim well on his new promotion – even though you worked hard for it and you believe Jim is a slacker. And, well, sure you’d like to be friendlier to your colleague Maggie, but she’s so darned organized it gives you a headache, especially when the boss is always giving her an award for it.
No one likes to admit they’re jealous or envious of a co-worker. After all, didn’t we leave such petty feelings behind on the playground? Or at least reserve them for the skinny woman who lives next door and can eat anything she wants?
The problem is the difficult economy has made our stress and insecurity more pronounced, which can often exacerbate the jealousy we feel on the job. We become more emotionally sensitive, and find ourselves battling the green-eyed monster in our cubicle.
Suddenly, it seems as if a co-worker’s off-handed comment about how your messy desk is a health threat doesn’t seem like a friendly quip but a direct insult. Remarks – even joking comments – are taken personally and negatively.
Psychologists say we often feel jealous when we sense someone has taken something away from us that we were attached to emotionally. You may have really been counting on a promotion, for example, so you may react in anger or hurt when you don’t get it. Jealousy really hits when we feel something is unfair, they explain.
So, you may feel jealous when a colleague gets a new project that you feel you deserved because you have more seniority, and because you had already envisioned the team you would pick and how much it would help your career.
Envy is a bit different than jealousy because it is usually about wanting something we don’t have. In that case, we may find ways to demean whoever has that which we desire – such as saying that when Jim get the promotion he is lazy and will fail at his new job.
Those experiencing jealousy or envy often want to put such uncomfortable and stressful thoughts aside, but don’t know how. If you find yourself in such a position, try:
Finally, it’s OK if you’re jealous or envious. But the key to making sure such feelings don’t poison your life is viewing the situation as a learning and growing experience. Think about how you can take what you’re feeling and become a better person and employee.