Remedies for Envy & Jealousy on the Job
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It's normal to feel jealous or envious when others obtain something you desire, like a raise or promotion. But jealousy and envy can negatively impact your job performance and productivity. They might also prevent you from achieving your own goals. Negative workplace relationships caused by feelings like envy and jealousy are a main reason employees aren't engaged at the workplace, according to the "Gallup Management Journal." While they often pass with time, taking proactive steps may help reduce your feelings of jealousy and envy.
Focus on Your Strengths
Sometimes, jealousy and envy can motivate employees to work harder and more effectively. Feelings of jealousy might encourage you to focus on your strengths and talents and help redirect negative energy into positive channels. Instead of wasting your valuable time and energy feeling resentful of others, direct that energy toward developing your own unique abilities. Focus on your work and on accomplishing your own goals. Negativity won't increase your chances of getting what you want, but becoming a more focused, productive and positive employee might help you achieve recognition and success.
Feelings of jealousy and envy can cause you to feel stressed, anxious and angry. Underneath these feelings lies a deep-seated fear that something you value is being threatened, even if the threat isn't real. Your body reacts to perceived threats with the fight-or-flight mechanism, otherwise known as the stress response, that causes you to take action or flee. Since you probably can't -- and shouldn't -- flee the workplace or fight with your coworker, your body has no way to alleviate the physical and emotional symptoms caused by the stress response. Trying to reduce feelings of stress might help you calm down and become more relaxed. Focus on deep breathing, take a break and get some fresh air or talk to a trusted friend to obtain a healthier perspective on the situation.
Change Your Outlook
Remembering the old adage -- "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" -- can also be helpful. Accept that others will often be in the limelight, and that sometimes they will achieve more or perform better than you. This doesn't mean you should resign yourself to feeling defeated. It does mean that it isn't in your best interest to dwell on your envious and jealous feelings. Try to put a different spin on the situation and put yourself in your colleague's shoes. If someone is antagonistic toward you and rubs his accomplishments in your face, there's nothing wrong with addressing his inappropriate behavior immediately. But if he's simply being recognized for a job well done, try to accept what is and feel happy for his achievements. You'd probably want him to feel the same for you if the situation were reversed.
In some cases, feelings of workplace jealousy can become overwhelming and affect your performance, productivity and well-being. Jealousy might even lead to the development of mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. If your feelings of jealousy and envy cause you to avoid the workplace or result in other problematic or unhealthy reactions, you may want to consult a qualified mental health professional. It's possible that there's a deeper, underlying issue being triggered by your feelings of jealousy. Discussing the situation with a professional might help alleviate your feelings, give you a healthier perspective and circumvent the development of serious mental health problems.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.