11 Signs to Detect an Envious Co-worker and How to Handle

signs to detect an envious co-worker
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Envy in the workplace is inevitable, and can ruin your career, if it’s not managed well. More people are now realizing that, detecting envy and jealousy at work is as important as detecting it in a relationship.

Most times, you may not see any reason why anyone should envy you. However, the truth remains that, you don’t have any control over how people feel about you.

What causes envy in the workplace? What are the signs to detect an envious co-worker? How do you handle envy in the workplace? What is the difference between jealousy and envy? These are some of the things, you’ll learn from this post.

Difference between Jealousy and Envy

Though sometimes used interchangeably, you have to be careful not to confuse the two terms.

The root of jealousy is the fear of losing something that you have. A jealous person has something; but is threatened by possible loss of that thing. On the other hand, envy is a desire to possess something that someone else has.

Consider these examples;

Jealousy: Chris brown is jealous cause Rihanna is staring at Jason Derulo.

Envy: Mr Bean is envious of James Bond, because he got the promotion ahead of him.

In summary, the difference between jealousy and envy;

  • Jealousy is because of what you have, and don’t want to lose.
  • Envy is because of what someone else has, that you want or feel you deserve.

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What are the things that cause envy at work?

  1. Promotion
  2. Public Accolades
  3. Blowing your trumpets
  4. Preferential treatment/favouritism
  5. Speedy growth
  6. Skills/Expertise
  7. Office space
  8. Competition/Inter department challenge

Note: No matter what you think, say or do; anything is capable of bringing envy your way. Your responsibility is to curb and manage envious colleagues.

Don’t allow your envious co-worker affect your work relationship, team, and/or spoil your job performance.

1) Promotion

Be careful whom you tell, and how you talk about your promotion. Envy can emerge, if the person feels that;

  • You didn’t deserve the promotion; especially if they had been coveting the position you were just given.
  • Your promotion came too early.

2) Blowing your trumpets

People like to feel good about themselves, they want to believe they’re making progress in life. If you constantly bring stories that make them feel beneath you, you risk the chance of gaining a new hater. Therefore, avoid tooting your horns to the wrong people, and/or bringing your personal life to work.

3) Preferential Treatment/Favouritism

No one loves to feel disadvantaged. Enjoying the benefits of preferential or favourable treatment can cause other colleagues to refrain from associating with you.

A worse scenario; is when you’re a leader, and you’re giving preferential treatments to some people. The others who aren’t enjoying the benefits, will grow envious and that will affect work relationship.

4) Speedy Growth

Your career growth can cause envious people to raise their brows on you. This is particularly if they’ve not attained that level of growth, or if it took them a long time to attain the heights you’ve attained personally or career-wise.

5) Skills/Expertise

Mostly when you’re a young professional or a new employee. A young professional who is skilled at his work is more likely to have people who envy him or her.

6) Accolades

If you constantly receive public praises for good deeds either from your bosses or colleagues. Chances are, someone will resent you, for being the only one always getting all the praises.

It could be the way you flaunt the accolades, maybe people compare them to you, or just because they also want a feel of the relevance. Whatever the case, you need to understand that this can happen, so you should position yourself to tackle it.

7) Office Space

Getting a new or bigger workspace shows your input in the company is valuable.

Anyone can take it to heart that you’re getting the good things of life while they lavish in their old, small office (Note: Their office doesn’t even have to be old and small, they just want what you have).

8) Competition

If you work in an organization where departments/teams, compete to meet targets, win budget share etc. it’s likely that those events can breed cold competitions.

Signs to Detect an Envious Co-worker

1) Disrespect you openly

When a co-worker is constantly disrespecting you in public and playing down your efforts, it should send a message to you. An envious person will use any opportunity to make you feel less of yourself, because that somehow makes them feel more relevant than you.

It’s one thing to correct you when you make a mistake; it’s another to always highlight your mistakes.

2) Celebrate your failure

Envious colleagues can’t stand your progress, they’re always happy to see you make mistakes. Whether they do it in the open or secretly, there’s this feeling of excitement they have, when things don’t go well for you.

3) Never have time to assist

Even if you make out time to assist them whenever they need you, they’ll never have time to assist you when you need them.

There’ll always be a deadline they want to meet, a tough task that’s taking their time, something that is making them not focus etc. They’ll always have an excuse for not being available to assist.

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4) Downplay your achievement

An envious colleague will rather credit your achievement to anything but not your hard work and skill. A lucky streak, your relationship with the boss etc, anything else is responsible for your success but not your hard work and skills.

5) Your Guts tell you

Another sign to detect an envious co-worker is that your guts will tell you.

When you start feeling some level of friction around a colleague, a kind of funny feeling which you can’t explain; it’s most likely because there’s negative energy that the person exudes, and your gut is trying to notify you that something is wrong somewhere.

6) Hardly look you in the eyes

There’s a social behaviour that doesn’t allow someone jealous or envious of you to make eye contact. Knowing or unknowing to them, it can be traced to human psychology.

7) Always disagree with you

To your envious colleague, your ideas are always not good. You didn’t put in enough research, you didn’t provide proofs to back up your claims etc. There’s always something that must get them to oppose you.

8) Criticize/Talk down on you

They are always on the lookout for opportunities to reduce your value in the sight of others. When a colleague starts going about, talking about your weak points to other colleagues behind you, then it’s a clear indication of envy and hate.

9) Never involve you

If they are having a happy time, they won’t involve you. When they send memos, they will omit your address and claim it was a mistake. The first time could be a mistake but when it keeps happening over and over, then your guess is as good as mine.

10) Your name is always in their conversations for the wrong reasons.

When you continually overhear your name in gossip, involving a particular person for reasons unknown to you; it most times, means they’re saying things about you that they would rather not say to you openly.

11) They give you cold shoulders

Sometimes, a good way to know when someone envious of you; is by reading their body language when you’re near that person. They always feel uneasy whenever you’re around, they just can’t wait for you to leave.

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More Signs to Detect an Envious Co-worker

12) Hoard information from you.

13) Avoid anything that will cause both of you to collaborate.

14) Ignore you when you speak to them.

15) Always vigilant in finding faults in your work.

16) They don’t give you credits when you deserve it.

17) They openly say that they “hate you”

18) Pretend to like you.        

19) Fake/insincere compliments.

20) They always want you to believe your job is easy or irrelevant.

21) They always want to exercise some authority over you, even when they are not your superiors.

Tips to Handle Envy at Work

Envy in the workplace can be avoided or averted by applying wisdom. Below are top tips that will help you handle an envious work environment.

1) Be humble

2) Don’t expect everyone to like you

3) Offer to share what you know

The same way it’ll hurt when information is withheld from you, that is how others will feel bad if you know something and keep it to yourself. It could be general information or knowledge that you have, if sharing it will avert envy, then it’s worth it.

4) Don’t offer your assistance if you were not asked for it

 Avoid anything that will make you seem like a bragger or a “Mr knows it all”.

5) Separate your work life from your personal life

Don’t bring your achievements to your workplace.

6) Ignore envy

 Another way to deal with envy is to ignore it. Don’t give it room to get to you. Focus on how to deliver on your assignments and go home to your family.

7) Find a support system

Handling workplace challenges could require getting external assistance. If it ever gets to that stage, find someone in whom you can confide in and get advice from.

8) Document everything

Envy can push people to any length, when you start noticing the acts of an envious colleague, start documenting activities, keep track of them.

9) Talk with your boss

When all attempts have failed to overcome the challenges from an envious colleague, you should consider speaking with your boss to help you arrest the situation.

10) Be a top performer

Always ensure you put in your best at work, that way, you’d know any plot against you will hardly be successful, since you’re always delivering.

11) Don’t be petty

Don’t allow the pettiness of an envious co-worker make you do things you’ll regret.

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12) Listen to others

In other not to be the architect of your problem, make it a habit to listen to others. Genuinely pay attention to what they have to say, appreciate their thoughts and ideas. That way, your colleagues will reciprocate to you.

13) Understand your boss and your work environment

So far your employer is happy with you, then every other hater is insignificant.

14) Own up to your mistakes and apologize, if you offend anyone

Understand that you too can unknowingly cause people to be jealous of you.

15) Celebrate/congratulate others

Genuinely celebrate and appreciate others, when they achieve an uncommon feat.

16) Make top performers your mentors.

17) Assess yourself regularly

Check yourself and purge yourself of attitudes that bring hate your way.

18) Approach the person directly

 You could also decide to talk with the individual involved. Let them know that you value them and their friends, but you’ve noticed, you might have done something that didn’t sit out well with them, and you’d be willing to make amends, if only they tell you what you did that they don’t like.

19) Speak to a senior and seek their counsel

Just like #5, confide in someone above you, and seek counsel; probably they’ve been in a similar situation. Find out how they handled it.

20) Weigh your options

This should be your last resort when all else fails. Consider if staying in the same environment will do you more good or harm. Dealing with one envious colleague is something you can manage effectively. But when you have to deal with many people who are always looking for ways to clamp down on you, then you should consider switching jobs for your sanity. You can browse through our vacancies to see latest job openings that suit your career expectations.

Summary: Signs to Detect an Envious Co-worker and How to Handle

  • Envy in the workplace is sometimes inevitable, your duty is to manage it so it doesn’t affect your work relationship and results, negatively.
  • Jealousy is the fear of losing something that you have, while envy is discomfort because someone else has something you wish you had.
  • Most people don’t care about workplace envy, because they don’t see any reason why someone would envy them. However, you don’t have any power over how people feel about you. Hence it’s important that you understand the signs to detect an envious co-worker and how to handle them.
  • If dealing with an envious and jealous co-worker is overwhelming for you, you should consider talking with your boss about it or changing workplace.

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Fasthire is a fast-growing career company. We are committed to helping young professionals get ahead in their career. If you have questions or additions on signs to detect an envious co-worker, or any other topic you need assistance in, kindly let us know in the comment section.

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