I felt ready for a promotion in my first job out of college after roughly two years. I applied for a lateral move when one wasn’t available. The position reported to a manager who was brand-new to the organization. He conducted a 360-degree review without telling me and questioned some of the other managers and my colleagues about me.
I met with him to discuss the new position, and he told me that several of my coworkers thought I wasn’t a team player and didn’t assist them with their work. I was devastated because I had already taken on additional assignments inside my area and was working with a colleague from a different department to head a sizable project! My peers were now upset with me for not assisting them with their work, too.
I requested a meeting with my employer and told her what I had learned during the interview. She assumed my coworkers were envious, which startled me in reaction. I was working on more intriguing projects and earning more respect.
Although obviously not my initial conclusion, this one began to make sense. How could I have known they were envious of me, I pondered. Do you recognize the telltale signs of jealousy at work?
How to Recognize Jealousy in a Coworker
1. They remark that your work is more interesting than theirs is.
You were brought on board to oversee marketing or special events. Your coworkers are envious of you while you type up the millionth budget report or deal with another client’s criticism because they believe you are paid to play on Instagram or go out. It makes sense that your coworkers could be a little envious if they believe your work to be more intriguing.
They are never “too busy” to assist you.
No one has time to assist you even if you’ve been a good team member and contributed wherever you were needed. When you ask for assistance, your coworkers either ignore you or say they are “too busy” to assist. Even worse, once you leave the physical meeting or walk away, you can hear people making disparaging remarks. This could be an indication of envy, especially if you were an external recruit and you were aware that your coworkers were competing for the position.
3. They make fun of you when you receive praise from the leadership group or your employer.
It’s possible that your coworkers aren’t even making an effort to hide their jealousy when they openly criticize any praise you receive. Try to resist letting it affect you. Instead, make an effort to compliment them on their job. Verify that your compliments are sincere; else, it can backfire.
4. They don’t invite you when they plan a virtual lunch or go out for happy hour.
Your envious coworkers may isolate you by barring you from social gatherings. Take it in stride and surround yourself with people who will help you grow if that occurs. Consider joining a professional association or industry group if your employer is really small.
5. They openly criticize you or, worse yet, talk negatively about you.
Every time you join a meeting or chat, if you can cut the tension with a knife, there’s a strong possibility your coworkers are envious. Even worse, you can learn from others that the same individuals are slandering you. You have the option of ignoring this behavior or dealing with it directly. Keep your composure and try not to let your feelings overwhelm you. Your coworkers may stop smack-talking if they believe it doesn’t bother you.
6. They don’t constantly disagree with you or feel the need to work with you.
If you find yourself being the odd man out all the time, it could be because your coworkers are envious of how often your ideas are put into action. If you encounter resistance to whatever you say, consider looking at it from different perspectives. Be open to trying different approaches, even if you are certain they won’t be successful. The only exception to this rule is if one of the ideas involves a danger to one’s safety or the potential for a significant financial loss.
7. When you speak to them, they ignore you.
Try to maintain your composure if jealous coworkers avoid you when you speak to them. Try to keep interactions brief and upbeat, and say good morning and good night. Try to keep your conversation with yourself light if you must.
8. When questioned about it, they either pretend it was an accident or ban you from emails or meetings.
Despite how utterly petty it is, this conduct does occur. If you find out you’ve been left out, try to politely inform your boss about the errors made by your colleagues. We can only hope that they will stop if they notice that the behavior is making things worse for them.
9. They aggressively undermine you or fabricate details of your work.
Even if this is the lowest of the low, try to recall the proverb that says to give individuals enough rope so they can hang themselves. Back up all of your work, keep copies of your communications, and if necessary, record Zoom conferences or meetings. Your colleagues’ dishonesty will typically be uncovered sooner rather than later if you have the receipts.