Smart Answers to Handle Jealous Office Teammates

Do you dislike being around a jealous office teammate? Do you wonder how to handle jealousy in the workplace? Before jealous office teammates affect your morale, consider these smart answers to handle the jealousy. The goal of these answers – minimize the affect the jealousy has on your attitude while still maintaining team spirit. Note that these answers don’t even use the phrases jealous or jealousy.

Smart Answers for Jealousy Image by:LauraElaine


  1. There is no shortage. This wonderful little saying, from the book The Secret, gives you and sometimes the jealous teammates, reassurance that opportunities for success abound. Whether you say it or just think it, it levels the emotion.

  2. I have learned from many. I hope we learn from each other. When you speak about the path to success, it reminds others that you are still working on success. It shares your secret to success and invites them in.

  3. Success is all of us, not either/or! We can all succeed at the same time. It’s not you or me.

  4. Looks don’t create great results. Teamwork does. If the jealousy is about your looks, state your focus on teamwork. It may not take away the jealousy. It will remind you and tell teammates that results of the team depend on everyone.

  5. I like working with you yet I find this topic distracting. When someone gives you a compliment, a simple thank you works well. When jealous office teammates fish around for personal info, give you specious compliments, or even passive aggressive digs, setting limits and refocusing discussion on work — works well.

What other answers have helped you deal with jealous office teammates and kept your morale high?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2010-2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

10 Responses to “Smart Answers to Handle Jealous Office Teammates”

  1. Kathi Browne says:

    Sometimes, the spouse is the target of jealousy as a “back door” jab. Comments like, “the CEO certainly thinks the world of your husband,” or “for someone who hasn’t been here that long, your husband sure has worked his way to the inner circle” can be responded to with, “good leaders know they can’t do it alone.”

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  3. Dan Rockwell says:

    Kate,

    Great topic.

    I’m a direct sort of fellow so I prefer #5. Just get it out in the open.

    Having said that, I’ve learned that other respond better to a kinder/gentler, less direct approach.

    In the end, jealousy is about me not them. It’s about my own fears that include the idea that I might get over looked or I might not get the credit I deserve.

    On a personal level, whenever I begin feeling jealousy I act like to act otherwise. In other words, rather than expressing jealousy because I didn’t get all the credit I deserved, I start giving credit to others.

    Thanks again for your insights,

    Dan Rockwell
    Leadership Freak

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dan,
      You are right that not all people can handle the direct approach. In fact, I have witnessed team members being able to handle it when the leader can’t. Interesting dynamic when peers want to speak openly to each other and the leader deems it unacceptable!

      And I agree with your suggestion — one way to remove jealousy is to overcome it with giving credit to others who deserve it.
      Kate

  4. Hi Kate
    I like your openness and approach to this topic. It’s one of those unspoken corporate emotions and not much is said about it, but definitely one that hampers and damages team work and spirit. I think corporate culture has a lot to do with whether jealously finds a place to settle and fester or not. Many talent management programmes actually contribute to jealously by not recognising the hard work of many solid and dependable workers, especially when said talent then ups and leaves for a better job offer.

    My personal reflection and I will need to think about this more, is that businesses can do a lot to create an environment where jealousy does not grow but rather finds an outlet. Jealousy is a natural emotion so I think it is a good on to express as long as the energy it creates is put to positive benefits. point 1 and 3 are great pointers for how people can channel these emotions into positive action
    Nice one Kate, keep em rolling

    Cheers Dean

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Dean,
      Very pleased you found it valuable. I like the way you framed it … “turn jealousy into positive action”. When corporations build a learning culture, I believe that jealousy (envy) will ease. When the culture is one of negative competition, jealousy will surge.

      Many thanks for contributing and I hope you will lend your insights on other posts.
      Kate

  5. Gina says:

    I like Dan’s comment above. Usually if you put them on the spot they will stop the behavior. Their intention was to make you look bad and it backfired when you turned it on them. They come across looking like the jerk. They will either try to avoid it happening again or find another avenue. My advice- do what you can to rise above but always be watching your back.

  6. Pattie Roberts says:

    Great topic, Kate, as always.

    Jealousy is, as Dan points out, a very human and very common emotion. It’s also complex and can be present anywhere. In my experience, jealousy at work can mushroom into even less savory emotions and behaviors, so I agree it’s best to try to dissipate it quickly and in a positive manner. Your suggestions are all quite good, particularly the first one: there is no shortage. I’ve not read The Secret, but I believe strongly in abundance and I am a big fan of the “there’s enough for all” principle. However, it is hard to be Zen about it when one person gets the job, or the bonus, or the recognition, or the bigger office, or the cube next to the window when, in business, there IS a finite number of promotions, bonuses, etc. It’s particularly challenging now, with businesses experiencing limited resources, so the jealousy issue is likely exacerbated.

    What I try to do in these situations is to listen to the person and recognize their feelings – “You must be very frustrated right now, to have said thus-and-so.” This usually leads to a bit of a rant from the person, which allows them to vent and which allows me to understand why they’re jealous. A former colleague once “congratulated” me on a new posting by pointing out that her degree was more suited to the position than mine. It wasn’t even a promotion – it was a lateral into an assignment that many considered to be plum. Once I acknowledged her disappointment, she shared with me that she felt “topped out” in her current role, and had been trying, unsuccessfully, to move into a more fulfilling role within the organization. My getting this assignment was less about my degree versus hers (always a hollow contest) and more of a “last straw” to her. We talked for a bit and once I knew more about what she hoped to do, I was able to give her some suggestions on how to move forward toward her goals. I can’t say she left my office happy, but her energy was less sapped by jealousy and more focused on positive steps she could take toward her own abundance.
    Having said that, I also agree with Gina: do take care to mind your own well-being, as jealousy can’t always be dissolved on the high road!

    Thanks for the opportunity to opine, Kate, and keep these life-savers coming!!

    Best,

    Pattie

  7. Noor says:

    Hi,
    I found this discussion by doing a Google research and liked it a lot.
    I joined a small company over a year ago. It was more than a job for me. As after years of experience in a different industry, I had to start as almost a new graduate. So I invested myself to contribute to my company’s success. I virtually had to live through a hatred of one of the colleagues and all my attempts to open a dialogue to understand such an attitude had no success. Everything in me caused lots of discussions behind me.
    In the meantime our company of few people was acquired by a larger company.
    Few months after being hired I got a salary increase. A year after my hire, I got promoted and had another increase. I could not believe my second colleague who was just promoted few days before me was very upset and would not want to talk to me.
    Recently we had a new colleague in the office, who in turn receiving exactly the same treat as myself from the “old” team.
    No I am expected to launch a new project. I have to deal with nastiness of colleagues (including the ex-mistress of the CEO) that come from a company that bought us. Every day I have to deal with “mood changes” of people who help me to prepare the project. Better, I am excluded from most of discussions and have no idea what is being prepared. All my work is scrutinized, I am asked to provide with proofs of that and proofs of this “to let company’s management know what I was doing” as they say.
    New project is a great opportunity for me, but I am so fed up with office dynamics that I am one step away from leaving the company. It makes me virtually sick. I’d love to understand the reason of such a dynamics. How can I be sure that the same story does not happen in a new company?
    Thank you for your time.

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