Workplace Relationships and Jealousy
Sunday, January 27, 2013 • 4:50pm
An email I received from a reader touches on the serious issue of workplace sabotage and jealousy. It is a topic that many of us face and too often we resolve it by looking for another position that distances us from that co-worker. Though very few people like confrontation, perhaps leaving is not the best way to go, especially if you happen to really like your job. Here’s a portion of the email.
I enjoy your articles and had the pleasure of meeting you at a Barnes and Noble where you were doing a reading from your book, "And Then I'll Be Happy" My problem concerns a relationship in my very unhappy workplace. A few months ago I got a dream job. In my field there is a certain amount of competition due to a commission system but most of it is friendly. I'm very good at what I do, love it, get great commissions, and have received praise from my co-workers here and at my previous job.
There is one woman, however, who was hired around the same time I was and seems to feel she has to fiercely compete with me on a daily basis. She has singled me out and is always trying to out-do me in everything. Unfortunately, she isn't as good at her job and her commissions are low. She resorts to unprofessional tactics, (leaving my name off an important office email she was required to forward, jamming the copier when I have sent things to be printed, etc.), which I try to ignore. She said they were "accidents". But when she blatantly copied a report, word for word, which I had written, I confronted her about it.
She immediately emailed the project leader with a lie telling her that I was unprofessional in accusing her and that people were complaining about me. None of it is true but the project leader believed her! I have never been unprofessional in my life. This woman seems to use email to co-workers frequently as a weapon against me. She is spreading lies about me and how I copy from her! How do I go about solving this? Should I just look for another position and leave? I am miserable. Mariah*
Mariah, the reality here is that this woman is jealous of you and your ability. It isn't at all uncommon and it happens often. Unfortunately, you are seeing exactly what happens when jealousy rears its ugly head in the workplace. When you are good at something professionally two things are bound to happen; there will be people who praise you and like you but there will always someone who can't stand the fact that you are better than she is in the same type of position. She is using email as a modern equivalent of the old "poison pen letter" to get at you.
Dealing with a jealous coworker can be stressful. You want to keep a peaceful work environment, but you certainly don't want to allow someone to make your work life miserable. This situation sounds as if it warrants getting supervisors directly involved in a meeting with both of you. Management may have to intervene if a problem is causing tension and emotional stress for you. As a writer, I completely understand how having your work copied verbatim and handed-in as her own can adversely affect you. Her inappropriate behavior, and outright left of intellectual property, should be recognized by administration, with reprimands and warnings. This is common workplace protocol.
Talk to your project leader alone or, if she is unavailable, email her and let her know exactly how you feel about being called unprofessional by a colleague. Request a meeting as soon as possible.
Be polite but direct and specific. Let her know that you are indignant over what is going on.
Be blunt. This is not the time to be complacent. Let it be understood that the other woman has used unprofessional behavior and has plagiarized your work. Tell your manager that it will not be tolerated again and that plagiarism is a legal issue. Don't hesitate to mention legal action if this is not resolved. Mention the “poison” emails to co-workers. Believe me your co-workers know that if this woman is slamming you she can slam any one of them as well.
Discuss it, firmly ask to have it resolved, and then let it go. Do not belabor the problem or it will turn into a "she said/she said" issue where no one wins. Make your point in a professional and forthright manner and chalk it up to experience.
Don't allow this to ruin what you have going for you. If you love what you do, are good at it, and getting good money for it, enjoy it. Don't give this mean-spirited woman power over you because of her poison laptop. She isn't worth it. Let her wallow in her jealousy. You do the best job you can and live your own life well.
© 2013 copyright Kristen Houghton
Follow @kristenhoughton on Twitter to keep up with her fantastic writing!
Books by Kristen Houghton:
No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut
And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First
Remember, Hetty? (An Award Winning Short Story)
Nourishing Thoughts: The Little Book of Sayings for a Healthy, Happy Life