Taming the green-eyed monster on the job

Q. I'm having enormous career success and have some envious coworkers who are making up lies about me. Sometimes I defend myself and counter the lies. Sometimes I stay quiet. How do I deal effectively with envy about my hard-earned success?

A. People who are very disturbed by the achievements of others feel deeply inadequate 24 hours a day. The success of anyone around them, not just you, engages an automatic need to ruin the achievement or the reputation of the achiever.

In the short term gossip can briefly tarnish your reputation, but in the long term you're the only one who can permanently ruin your reputation. If people talk badly about you repeatedly, two things will occur:

1) Other people start to consider it odd that certain people keep obsessing and foaming at the mouth about you.

2) If your behavior contradicts what the backstabbers say, the backstabbers lose credibility and your reputation is repaired.

It takes great impulse control and patience to wait for other people to see that envy is the driving force behind much gossip. If you try to counter the lies, you actually lend credibility to your envious adversaries. Innocent people don't defend themselves.

To navigate envious people successfully try the following:

When around people you know are insecure or prone to envy, keep your latest achievements to yourself. Also don't give these people any more access to you than necessary.

If coworkers want to repeat hurtful gossip to you, make it clear you don't want to hear second hand information.

Speak with kindness and generosity at work about backstabbers. You can say anything you want outside the workplace.

Take comfort in the fact that, although it may appear backstabbers are winning the battle, nobody gets ahead by stabbing anyone else in the back. Your patience, refusal to play dirty and future successes will richly reward you by vindicating your reputation and winning the war.

The last word(s)

Q. I am blown away by the thoughtlessness of most people. They steal my desk supplies and leave copy machines jammed and coffee pots empty. What's up with such rudeness?

A. Most people are overbooked and overwhelmed, which leaves little room for thoughtfulness. Praise people who are the exception and consider thoughtfulness an effective marketing niche -- you won't have much competition!

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)


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