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How to Deal with a Jealous Boss at Work

Comparing ourselves to others is an important aspect of human life.

It can be seen in almost every stage of life:

A toddler who wants a new toy because her friend has one; a teen looking for the best photo app to keep up with their friends’ Instagram photos; or an adult thankful to have spent the lockdown in their apartment with a balcony and great views while their peer was stuck in a windowless studio.

Comparisons are also widespread at work.

We may be envious of a colleague’s excellent presentation or resentful that someone else was chosen to work on a high-profile project.

How to Deal with a Jealous Boss at Work

Jealousy might sometimes arise as a result of our own achievements.

But what if your manager is the source of your jealously or resentment?

When presented with a subordinate who outperforms them, an insecure manager is likely to feel intimidated.

According to research, managers behave in one of two ways in such situations:

1) Non-harmful reactions: Your boss humbly self-deprecates and feels your great performance is due to your unique abilities.

In such instances, you may find that your boss fabricates a story about your performance, claiming that your success is due to your brilliance and privilege.

This allows individuals to rationalize their own flaws or lack of popularity in comparison.

If this is the case, your boss is generally harmless, and you should avoid stirring the pot.

2) Reactions that may be harmful: Your boss frequently expresses their jealousy through words or actions.

Here are some red flags that their reactions are potentially harmful:

Even when your labor produces results and is praised by others, they always find something to criticize.

During meetings or one-on-ones, they regularly interrupt you.

In front of your team, they minimize your achievements.

They don’t pay attention to you.

They appear to take pleasure in pointing out your flaws.

They assign you to projects that no one else wants to do.

If this is the case, your boss may believe that the praise you are receiving is undeserved and unfair.

They may resent you because they perceive you as a threat.

A boss with this perspective is likely to separate themselves from you.

Socially isolate you, and try to eliminate any advantages you have in the system.

Recognize that this is not your fault, yet it may have an impact on your development and evolution.

If you’re seeing your future chances dwindle as a result of a jealous boss, take the advice below to help you deal with their emotions (and your career path).

1) Be aware of the psychology. Your supervisor is a human being with the same need for status and respect as the rest of us.

When they see you outshine them, they may feel threatened.

Especially if they believe their own popularity and position are being lowered, which might lead to jealously, envy, or dissatisfaction.

This is referred to by psychologists as the state of relative deprivation:

Defined as feeling disadvantaged or inferior when compared to others, as well as the belief that you are worse off than them.

While it is your manager’s responsibility to cope with their own feelings of uneasiness and animosity.

You should also consider whether there is anything you can do to improve your own behavior.

Consider the following questions:

Do I share the limelight with this individual on an equal footing?

Is it appropriate for me to give credit where credit is due?

Do I demonstrate enough gratitude and acknowledgement for the collaboration that led to my success?

You’ll be able to comprehend if any of your own behaviors have contributed to their fears, if you answer these questions.

2) Maintain a humble demeanor when dealing with their reactions. When we succeed, we invariably ascribe our success to our own desire, drive, skills, and abilities.

While this may be true, we must also recognize the extraordinary situations and fortuitous possibilities we may have encountered along the way.

This is where you may express your gratitude to your boss for the help, guidance, sponsorship, and exposure they may have provided you on your way to success.

It is crucial to not just admit this privately, but also publicly in front of stakeholders that are important to your supervisor.

“I also simply want to acknowledge that a significant part of my success is thanks to my manager’s support and the opportunity they’ve given me,”.

You may say the next time your work is recognized or called out in a large gathering.

I’d want to express my gratitude to [manager’s name] for motivating me to pursue [opportunity].

This award recognizes not only my performance, but also all of the decisions they made to make this production a reality.”

Keep in mind that your humility and thankfulness must be sincere.

When it’s acceptable, include particular events or anecdotes that demonstrate your manager’s support, or discuss how your manager assisted you in overcoming a hurdle.

Thank your boss for providing you with valuable networking and growth opportunities, as well as the opportunity to work on high-profile projects.

3) Use your achievement to motivate both your boss and your coworkers. When you’re doing well, you could become more self-centered.

However, it’s vital to take a break and consider how you can utilize your power to assist others achieve.

Assume you have a certain amount of leverage at work as a result of your accomplishments. Share that power with your boss first.

Invite them to important events and include them in them.

When you’re the center of attention, you’ll be able to raise your profile. You really should! That is what it takes to be a good team player.

You can also mentor or lead team workshops to share your knowledge with your peers.

These behaviors are more likely to be How to Deal with a Jealous Manager at Workinterpreted favourably by your boss, who will regard you as a team player rather than a danger.

4) De-escalate power and status struggles before they escalate.

If your boss feels threatened by your celebrity, he or she may become more assertive in how they exercise their power and influence in front of stakeholders and at public meetings.

Understand that when your boss wields control over you, it’s most likely because they’re envious of you.

To neutralize the source of the threat, the first step is to refuse to reciprocate in the power and status struggle.

Instead, acknowledge your boss’s experience and authority to validate them.

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Remind them how much you appreciate their help and contributions to your achievement.

“I understand where you’re coming from and value your knowledge,” you could say. In fact, I’d be grateful for your guidance on how to complete [this assignment].

I’ve benefited from your knowledge and talents in the past, and I’d like to learn more from you in the future.”

This can provide you a sense of security and efficacy, which will assist you avoid becoming socially isolated.

Don’t get irritated by your boss’s conduct.

Know that there are strategies to handle your manager’s negative behavior and turn their rivalry into an allyship.

if they are attempting to put you down, reacting in ways that hurt you, or crowding out your achievement.

HBR Article 

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