How to deal with an overly jealous coworker

Written by lalla scotter
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How to deal with an overly jealous coworker
Occasional clashes at work are inevitable (Aidon/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

One of the challenges of working in an organisation is maintaining good relationships with your colleagues. As you cannot choose your co-workers it is possible that you may occasionally experience difficulties and personality clashes. One of the most common problems is jealousy: when one employee is envious of another's success, position, or popularity. This can be exhibited by quiet sniping or by more obvious back-stabbing and even sabotage. Such clashes can have a detrimental effect on the morale of the whole team or department, so should be dealt with as soon as possible and not left to fester.

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Look at your own behaviour

If you are the object of a co-worker's jealousy, ensure that your own behaviour is not doing anything to aggravate it. Do not discuss your successes or emphasise when you are being given what they might interpret as preferential treatment. If you are publicly singled out for praise, accept it humbly and make sure that you give credit to the rest of the team. Remain professional and polite at all times when dealing with your co-workers.

How to deal with an overly jealous coworker
Make sure you give credit for success to the whole team (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Address the issue directly

Sometimes, especially if your co-worker is exhibiting signs of jealousy with no apparent cause, the best thing to do is to talk to her, carefully and politely. If appropriate, ask her to go off-site for a coffee, or find a quiet room in which you can talk without being overheard. Do not mention the word "jealousy", but do say that you had noticed that she seems to be angry with you. Ask her if you have done something to upset her, and apologise for anything you have done wrong, explaining that you did not mean to annoy her. A mild confrontation such as this can sometimes be all it takes to resolve the issue. In any case, make a note of the date, time and outcome of this conversation as you may need it in the future.

How to deal with an overly jealous coworker
A conversation may be all it takes to resolve the issue (George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Build up the team

If you are a victim of conflict in the workplace it can seem very isolating. It can be particularly so if your co-worker is exhibiting her jealousy by talking about you behind your back. The answer is not to respond in kind but to strengthen the bonds within the whole team. If you feel that you have allies it will reduce your stress and they may even speak up for you if it becomes necessary.

How to deal with an overly jealous coworker
If you feel you have allies it will reduce your stress (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Ask for help

If difficulties persist and as a very last resort, talk to your line manager or someone in the Personnel or Human Resources department. They will have processes to manage issues of this kind and may even call in an independent person to act as a mediator. Keep calm, factual and objective at all times. Again, do not mention that you think your colleague may be jealous: just talk about what she has done. It helps to have made notes of incidents and things she has said, and to have kept copies of emails and notes. If you have to make a formal complaint and there is a hearing, these will be needed as evidence.

How to deal with an overly jealous coworker
Sometimes a mediator can be used to solve conflicts (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

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