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  • Writer's pictureselenarezvani

How to handle feeling jealous 🐸 of a coworker

Ever felt a pang of jealousy when a work peer performs better than you?

I know, I know — we’re supposed to celebrate each other’s accomplishments. But sometimes you just can’t help feeling that you wish it was you getting the “congratulations!”

I’m not proud of it, but I’ve certainly felt jealous of a colleague:

Years ago, I had a straightforward, “professional” presentation I was getting ready to give at a huge conference. I arrived an hour early and happened to catch the speaker before me.

My jaw almost hit the floor — she was amazing. Her story was compelling, she integrated upbeat music, she even ran around, weaving through the audience! She was a 12 out of 10 in her energy level and delivery.

I realized right away, my academic presentation was going to be…very different from hers. While I’ve since grown through this experience, on that day it stung to think about how we stacked up to each other.

If you have moments like this again and again, your confidence can take a hit — along with your morale, motivation, and job satisfaction. So what can you do?

The best way to pull yourself up is to stop the comparison game.

That means looking at what you can control – things like sharpening your skills, working hard with what you do have, and showing up to work everyday a little bit better than you were yesterday. After all, you’re in this position today because others recognize your value.

So even if people around you shine particularly brightly – or the environment you’re in doesn’t give you the validation you hope for, it’s still important to confidently re-affirm your value for yourself.

Today’s tips are for anyone who feels outshined by the people around them!

Quick Confidence Tips to Pivot when you Feel Outshined:

  1. Embodied: Pick up some new skills. Is your peer being celebrated for something outside of your skillset? If so, don’t stew in jealousy. Instead, get smarter! Think about how you could invest in and expand your own domain knowledge. You don’t necessarily have to mimic learning what your peer knows, but stop and reflect on what training or experience could enrich the value you already bring today. Similarly, you could focus on a cutting-edge part of your field that you would like to learn more about and become associated with. Pour your energy there!

  2. Interpersonal: Seek a mentor in someone who’s winning. If someone is where you want to be, a productive (but sometimes counterintuitive) approach is to reach out and learn from them. What could you do to applaud their success and at the same time, engage them to learn about their process? Ask them to grab lunch or coffee with you, or for a virtual conversation to understand their path to getting really good at “X." I like to be really transparent in these meeting requests so there’s no mystery around “what the meeting’s about.” Then, you can ask how they got to where they are today and how you can follow in their footsteps.

  3. Mindset: Don’t panic. Panicking can make negative thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” become “Am I going to lose my job?” Or, in the case at my conference, “she was so lively and engaging” turned into “I don’t have anything as good to offer the audience.” Once you start a negative thought train, it can spiral out of control! Instead, remind yourself of the valuable skills you do have. Sit down right now and write out 5 of the attributes that make you great at what you do. Think of situations where you saw those traits come to life and really relish them. Remember, you’ve got what it takes to succeed.

Taking ownership and action on what you can directly influence is one of the best ways to feel more confident. And the same is true for learning new things and expanding your skillset. With all of these new things you’re going to learn, you’ll be more valuable to your company, more impressive to your peers, and position yourself for new opportunities and visibility!

I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever felt like a peer outshined you at work? How did you pivot that into a positive?


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