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Navigating Envy in the Workplace

navigating envy in the workplace

In the intricate web of workplace dynamics, emotions can run high, and one sentiment that

often rears its head is envy. It's not uncommon to find ourselves amidst colleagues or peers

whose words and actions seem tinged with a hint of envy. This complex emotion, if left

unaddressed, can sow the seeds of unnecessary rivalry, and hinder collective progress.

Envy is a multifaceted emotion, often disguised in various forms. It can manifest when

someone desires what another possesses, be it possessions, qualities, or even a stroke of

luck. Recognising envy in ourselves or others is the first step toward managing this emotion.

Recently, I found myself in the midst of an envious exchange with a peer. We had both been

invited to speak at a conference, but her words left me questioning her intentions. She

downplayed my speaking slot, asserting that the 'important people' were scheduled for the

first day, subtly insinuating that I was not worthy to be speaking first. After reflection, it

dawned on me that I, too, had grappled with envy when witnessing incompetent leaders in

positions of power.

Envy and pride, I realised, often occupy opposing sides of the emotional spectrum. But how

do we deal with envy in the workplace? Here are some actionable steps for both recognising

and addressing envy:

If You Sense Envy Directed at You

  1. Recognise the Manipulation - Envious individuals often aim to make you feel small. Be aware of this tactic, and don't succumb to it.

  2. Don't Let Insults Stick - Brush off their insults and remember your worth.

  3. Unapologetically Be Yourself - Avoid apologising for your achievements or who you are.

  4. Avoid Retaliation - Resist the urge to criticise them in return and keep focusing on the goals you are slaying.

  5. Lift Them Up - Remind the envious person of their own strengths and successes. Elevating them can often diffuse envy.

If You Feel Envious

  1. Admit Your Desires - Acknowledge that you want what someone else has and ask why do you want or need it?

  2. Understand the Connection with Pride - Recognise that envy and pride often share the same emotional root.

  3. Choose Compassion - Replace envy with compassion. Try to understand the other person's perspective and challenges.

  4. Fuel Self-Improvement - Let envy be a motivator for self-improvement. Ask yourself, "What do I need to change or achieve?"

  5. Count Your Blessings - Reflect on your own accomplishments and strengths. Remember, the grass may appear greener on the other side, but there's a reason you are where you are.

Envy impacts our personal and professional lives and by acknowledging and managing it, we

can foster healthier workplace relationships and harness this emotion as a catalyst for

personal growth.


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