PSA: Here’s How To Deal With A Bout Of Professional Jealousy

How to conquer that inner green-eyed monster in the workplace.

If you were to ask my opinion, I would say that there’s a significant amount of people who have felt, gone through and dealt with professional jealousy. But I would also wager that there’s few who would admit it. Maybe they didn’t realise it, or maybe because they felt a little ashamed to admit that they were feeling nothing but jealousy of a friend or a co-worker.

But plenty of us have felt it, that little twinge in the pit of your stomach when you’re jealous of someone who seems to be floating through their career perfectly, without a worry or a care in the world. Or maybe it’s when you were overlooked for a promotion when you thought you were next in line. Even for those who are juggling work, home and family life, looking at others and wondering ‘how do they actually do all of that?’.

In any case, professional jealousy may have become an even bigger problem during the pandemic – for people who have lost their jobs and witnessed friends working their way through the career ranks, or those who have been working harder than ever before but feel as if others are getting the credit for what they’ve done. Whether that be in the form of a promotion, a pay rise, or even a ‘thank you’ cocktail package delivered to their door.

Lisa spoke to STELLAR, explaining her recent bout of professional jealousy. “Two months ago, I heard through the grapevine that one of my managers was about to hand in her notice. I immediately felt excited, not because I wasn’t sad to see her go, but because I was certain that I was going to be her replacement.

I began to dream of a salary increase, having more responsibilities and a title that I felt I deserved. My excitement didn’t last long as she was quickly replaced by a new hire.”

Lisa was shocked. “I felt my stomach drop. I was so certain that the position was mine. I worked hard, I never stood out of line and I was more than capable. Whenever I had dealings with my new manager, all I felt was jealousy. I can’t use any other word to describe it. I started to feel like I did as a child, when I was told I couldn’t have something so I would go and sulk in the corner. I didn’t want to do the tasks I was given, simply because I felt I should have been the one giving out the tasks, rather than agreeing to add more and more to my to-do list, for no benefits whatsoever.”

It’s easy to compare yourself to others – unfortunately, we seem to do it all of the time, when it comes down to pretty much everything. I’m not here to tell you how to stop comparing yourself to others, that would be a completely different article altogether. But when it comes to dealing with professional jealousy, I do have a few pointers.

Actually think about the outcome

If, like Lisa, not being considered for a promotion has reared a green-eyed monster inside you, stop for just a moment and think about it. Rather than sitting there, having a whinge about things not being fair or nothing going your way (no judgement here, I’ve done that countless times myself) think about the decision making process behind the outcome.

Was that person genuinely more experienced than you? Did they spend their time balancing numbers while you enjoyed your third coffee break of the morning? There’s a lot of factors that come into play here, so rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that you’re no good for the position, have a think about the realities first.

Ask for more responsibilities

As much as it’s a big factor, professional jealousy doesn’t always come down to money, or sometimes even a lack thereof between colleagues. Sometimes it can come down to a feeling of pointlessness, for lack of a better word. You may be feeling that each day is the same and that there’s no room for growth, while you see others climb the ranks with promotion after promotion.

It’s not always plausible, but to stop your work from getting too tedious day in and day out, have a chat with your boss or your manager about taking on some more responsibility. It doesn’t have to be a massive change to be a step in the right direction.

Set your own goals

When you’re stuck in a rut, it’s easy to be jealous of those who seem as if everything is working out perfectly in their careers. Especially as some of us continue to work from home, there’s plenty of people feeling as if they’re stuck, bored or frustrated. Whatever your job may be, set yourself some goals each week. Not only is it great to tick them off (this is coming from a list-lover, but believe me, it’s great), you’ll also feel as if you’re making some progress and getting somewhere.

Work in web development? Try a new feature on a website this week. Public relations more your thing? Land a page of extra coverage. Want more responsibility? Schedule a chat with your manager. Even if you’re having a terrible week and your only goal is to get through it, that’ll be one thing ticked off by the end of the week.

Look at your own professional positives

Not to be too much of a Positive Polly, but a lot of the time we tend to focus on the negatives. Especially when we’re comparing ourselves to others around us, it seems to point in the direction of ‘they have this, I don’t have that’, ‘they get to do this, while I never got that chance’.

Look at your own work and your own successes, from the client you impressed last month to always being the person people go to when they’re not sure about something. Or think of the reasons why you’ve stayed in your job for the length of time that you have, it could be due to the friendships you’ve made, the skills you’ve learned or the change you’ve made by simply doing your job.

Let your own time come

One important thing to remember is that professional jealousy is more common than you may think. Whatever happens, that green eyed monster might not go away for good, but if you can learn to diffuse it, focus on yourself and do you, that’s basically half the battle right there.

Give yourself a break, jealousy, particularly in the career arena, literally comes down to natural instinct and competition. Remember that you’re on your own schedule, keep on trucking and just make sure your face doesn’t reveal all!


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