6 Easy Ways to Deal with Professional Jealousy

Curious, jealous businessman peering over coworker's laptop

In today’s modern workplace, it’s not uncommon to feel a little out of place.

With the help of our numerous app notifications, we’re constantly reminded about the seemingly more fun and interesting jobs other people possess. We see them always travelling for work, posting about their posh brunch meetings and perpetually bombarding our feeds with annoying hashtags like #ILoveMyJob.

Meanwhile, we’re subjected to the small but terrible tyrannies of our work. We wake up early, clock in eight hours of mind-numbing labour and wonder if the office will ever consider getting a decent coffee machine.

We fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to our peers and falsely believe that all those years spent being exemplary employees were just a waste of time. We wallow in self-pity and slowly but surely begin to resent the work we once loved.

If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re going through the same phase.

Oftentimes, we question our choices and fantasise about quitting our job when the reasons for doing so are somewhat ephemeral. And while there are legitimate reasons for wanting a career change, it’s always important to distinguish between facts and feelings.

So, if you’re currently at a crossroads and struggling with envy in the workplace, then read on to find out how to deal with professional jealousy!

1. Take on More Responsibilities

It’s not always the amount of money (or lack thereof) that causes jealousy in the workplace. It’s actually the feeling of pointlessness – the belief that there’s no more room for growth and that you’re better off being somewhere else, doing something else.

It could be that you’ve stayed in your job for too long or maybe you really have outgrown the company. A lot of the times, however, it’s simply because you’ve become weary of doing the same things day in and day out.

To prevent the work from getting tedious, and from comparing yourself to what others have, challenge yourself to take on more responsibilities. Reach out to different departments, talk to your boss about what else you can do and try switching jobs with a co-worker. This may seem counterintuitive, but the more you learn about what you’re capable of, the more likely it is that you’ll find meaning in what you do.

2. Ask for Help

One of the things that most people feel jealous of are other people’s success, or to be more exact, the speed at which they achieve their success. Say, for example, you and your friend both started out as production assistants but for some reason, they land a promotion and begins earning more than you.

Before complaining about how the world is totally unfair, stop and think about the other factors that may have led to their promotion. Maybe there was a sudden vacancy and she had the most experience in the bunch; maybe she spent longer hours in the office and was rewarded for it. Whatever the case may be, the best way to know about how people succeed is to ask them about it.

This may sound like an obvious solution, but you’d be surprised by how many people would rather stew in their own misery than ask for help. Who knows? You may even discover how lonely it can be on the top and, rather than being jealous, become a better friend instead.

3. Make Yourself Heard

Many people get jealous of other people getting a raise or a promotion, but hardly any of them even consider asking for it. Employees mistakenly believe that if they put in long hours, submit their report long before the deadline and do everything by the book that they will eventually get noticed. But the harsh truth is that your boss may not even be aware of how much work you’re doing.

Unless you point it out in your evaluation or bring it up during a private meeting, your contributions will largely go unrecognised. This doesn’t make your boss a cruel person, but rather an insanely busy one who has way more things on his or her plate than you.

It’s not the intention of our managers to make us feel bad, but sometimes we may need to remind them of our accomplishments – provided, of course, that we do so in a professional and respectful manner. If we look beyond our own little worlds and understand why people act the way they do, it will be easier for us to ask for the things we want instead of waiting in vain to be validated.

4. Keep Learning

To combat resentment and jealousy at work, give in to your inner child by being more curious. Just because you've been in the job long, it doesn't mean you are already an expert at it.

The danger of believing that you already know everything about your job is that you end up becoming stagnant; this can make you even more jealous of coworkers who may have new or better ideas on how to do your work.

Rather than fighting the future, learn more about the new tools that will help you be better at your craft. Embrace and try to understand the millennials, rather than shun them for their unconventional ways. More importantly, accept that the world is changing and adapt to it. Not only do you become indispensable, but life gets substantially more interesting, as well.

5. Foster New Friendships

There comes a time in adult life when you no longer try to make new friends. This isn’t so much unusual, as it is the norm. After all, you’ve already selected the set of friends who will be with you on your wedding day and the ones who will visit you on your deathbed.

Sometimes, you find these people at work, which is why when they leave, it almost feels like a part of you has gone, too. But sitting out of an opportunity to bond with new coworkers will not only hinder you from getting more work experiences; you may also be missing out on creating new friendships that can potentially change how you see your job.

6. Project Your Own Happiness

One of the easiest ways to become less envious of other people’s work and success is to look back on the reasons why you’ve stayed in your job for so long. It could be the friendships you’ve made, the professional skills you’ve gained or the change you created by doing what you do.

Rather than being jealous of what other people have, focus on the culture you’ve cultivated, and create new goals for yourself. You may not always travel to exotic locations or have meetings in posh restaurants, but having genuinely kind officemates can be just as – if not even more – rewarding.

Consider that what you find on social media is only a sliver of what happens in real life and is rarely the whole story. Most of the time, they’re merely projections of what they hope other people to see. And even when it feels like they never seem to run out of wonderful memories and ‘I love my job’ hashtags to share, remember that a few snapshots of someone else’s success and happiness do not, and cannot in any way, diminish your own.

Have you ever felt professional jealousy? Let us know if you can relate in the comments section below and tell us how you went about managing your envy in the workplace.