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Don’t Let Jealousy Derail Your Career

I was in the middle of online training when I received an email from an Inspector General (IG) asking to speak to me later that afternoon.

The IG’s office had received an anonymous complaint about me using my personal laptop to teach college courses on government time. I explained to the IG that I teach online through a learning management system that time stamps all my teaching activities which will show that I wasn’t teaching on government time. Also, the personal laptop in my office is an old computer where I store audiobooks and podcasts to play during the workday. The laptop could barely do more than play MP3s. I offered to have my university’s technology department call the IG to verify the time stamps while I would immediately bring my personal laptop to be examined. The IG said that wouldn’t be necessary and asked me if anything had changed in my office.  

“I was recently promoted,” I said.

 “That’s probably why we received the anonymous complaint,” the IG said. “I’m going to close the case with no further action. Thanks for being cooperative.”

Dealing With Jealous Colleagues

You are a great worker, and you deserve the recognition you receive. You don’t mean to make others jealous, but you can’t control how people will react. However, you can take positive steps to keep from encouraging jealousy.

  • Don’t become arrogant and brag about your extraordinary talents.
  • Also, don’t go to the extreme of being apologetic about your achievements.
  • Acknowledge your success modestly and be willing to teach others.
  • Celebrate your colleagues’ successes.
  • Don’t take the criticism personally, and be the first to offer an olive branch.

Dealing With a Jealous Manager

When the boss is jealous of you, they can make the workplace horrible. Again, you may have done nothing to cause jealousy, but you can take steps to defuse the situation.

  • Be respectful and friendly to your boss. The boss may feel threatened by your recent successes and the attention you are receiving from the boss’ superiors. Share credit to help your boss look good, also.
  • Work to understand why the boss may be jealous. Be the reasonable adult in the room and try to repair the professional relationship.
  • But take care of yourself. You deserve to be treated well as the good worker you are. Don’t let an abusive boss damage your career. If you made an honest effort to patch things up with your boss and they still treat you poorly, start working on your resume and find a better place to appreciate you.

Dealing With Your Jealousy

It’s happened to me, and it will happen to you. You will be jealous of a colleague and their accomplishments. Instead of letting jealousy drag you down, use envy to improve yourself.

  • Be honest about your feelings. What is it that is causing you to be envious? Give yourself credit for your achievements, and think about how you can emulate the accomplishments about which you are jealous.
  • Try talking to the colleague. Ask how they achieved so much in their career and learn from them. Most people are happy to mentor others. Who knows? The colleague may want to learn from you about your many achievements.
  • Give yourself credit for your professional journey. Take an honest and positive look at yourself. People often don’t give themselves enough credit for their outstanding work.

Jealousy in the workplace happens all the time. The key is realizing why jealousy is happening and not letting it ruin your professional career. Understand why others are envious of you or why you are envious of others and turn the negative emotions into an opportunity for growth.

Dr. Bill Brantley works in the U.S. Navy Inspector General Office as a Senior Training Specialist where he is leading the project to build the Office’s first learning portal for nearly 1,000 employees in the enterprise. He has been a program manager for the Emerging Leader Program and Supervisor Certificate Program at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He also managed the Executive Coaching and the Career Coaching Programs. Dr. Brantley was awarded the 2019 Emerging Training Leader by Training Magazine and is an IPMA-HR SCP, a Certified Professional in Talent Development, an ROI certified professional, a certified data scientist, and a Certified Professional in Training Management. He is a certified Project Management Professional, a certified agile project manager, a certified professional in business analysis, and is certified in Disciplined Agile. He has completed over 200 hours of coaching training from the Neuroleadership Institute, the American Confidence Institute, emotional intelligence coaching, and the Global Team Coaching Institute. Dr. Brantley is an adjunct faculty member for the University of Louisville (20+ years) and the University of Maryland (8+ years). He is the author of the “Persuasive Project Manager” (2019) and “Four Scenarios for the Future of the Federal Government” (2019).

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