How to Use Jealously to Your Advantage at Work

How to Use Jealously to Your Advantage at Work
Photo: microstock3D, Shutterstock

It’s easy to compare yourself to other people — especially ones you’re around a lot, like your co-workers. And while no one sets out to be envious of a colleague, sometimes it just happens. But, the good news is that you can use that feeling to improve your own performance. Dr. Camille Johnson, an associate dean and professor at San Jose State University, addresses this in an article for Psychology Today. Here’s what to know.

Different types of envy

First of all: What’s envy? According to Johnson: “Envy is the emotion caused by others having relatively more than you.” But it’s important to keep in mind that there are different types of envy. Here’s how Johnson explains it:

A typical response to envy is to reduce that discrepancy between yourself and the other. This might include bringing the other person down to your level, either directly or indirectly, bringing yourself up to their level, or deciding that the entire comparison area is without value.

Benign vs. malicious

Dutch marketing professor and human behaviour expert Dr. Niels van de Ven says that there are two types of envy: benign and malicious. “Benign envy is that which leads to a moving-up motivation aimed at improving one’s own position and malicious envy leads to a pulling-down motivation aimed at damaging the position of the superior other,” Johnson explains.

We’ve been conditioned to think that any type of envy or jealousy is bad, but benign envy is different: it’s more about feeling dissatisfied with yourself, rather than having negative feelings towards someone else.

How to use benign envy to your advantage

If you’ve established that what you’re feeling towards your co-worker is benign envy, you might as well take advantage of it. Benign envy comes from a place of admiration, rather than resentment, and because of that, may give you the push you need to work a bit harder. Here’s how to do that, according to Johnson:

Focus on what is in your control and on the desired outcomes. When people focus on the characteristics of the other person, instead of their own goals, they get stuck. Instead, maybe you need to change jobs, seek areas for success, or try to find mentoring and advice for improving your status.

 

Log in to comment on this story!