What is it about the office environment that brings out the mean girl (or boy) in some people? Years after we’ve graduated from high school, we still sometimes have to put up with juvenile behavior from our coworkers.
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In a recent article on The Grindstone, Lisa Marie Basile looks at the phenomenon of the jealous coworker, and how to deal with the situation without losing your cool, or your chance at promotion.
First and foremost, let’s look at why this sort of thing happens in the first place. If one of your colleagues is jealous of you, it’s generally because:
1. You have something that he doesn’t have. (E.g., talent, a promotion, more paid time off, a seat near the window.)
2. He thinks that you have something that he doesn’t have. (See above, and adjust for the office rumor mill going into overtime.)
3. He is a deeply unhappy person.
Hint: the answer usually includes a bit of the third option, no matter what else is going on.
Basile’s tips on how to handle the situation are spot-on. The best advice, in short, is to act like a grownup, even if your colleague refuses to.
In other words, don’t feed the fire by gossiping yourself, don’t engage with bullies or catty people — and if you must confront the situation, do so directly.
“If, after everything, your coworker continues behaving in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or is a detriment to the workplace, confront him or her,” Basile advises. “Ask them, politely, ‘I’ve noticed a rift between us and I wanted to see where you’re coming from.’ This way, you allow them to speak without automatically putting them on the defense.”
Best-case scenario, you’ll both be able to air your grievances in a mature and productive fashion, but even if worse comes to worst, at least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you didn’t escalate the situation.
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