How should I handle professional jealousy? UX Question #49

Watch on YouTube

YouTube player

Listen to the podcast

Read the transcript

Jeffrey from Oxnard, California, says: I was promoted to Lead Designer and one of my teammates feels like he should have been promoted because he’s been here longer. What should I do?

I think the basic question here is how should I handle professional jealousy?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Jeffrey. This is UX Question number 49 and I am Ben Judy.

How should I handle professional jealousy? I have five tips for you. Three things to do, and two things not to do.

One: communicate and seek understanding. Try to talk to your coworker and seek to understand their perspective. There’s usually more going on than meets the eye. That jealousy might be connected to other issues. You might have the opportunity to be a good friend and help them better understand their own feelings.

But if their behavior becomes an issue—if they start acting unprofessionally or undermining you in some way, use the SBI format to give feedback. Describe the situation, describe the behavior your observed, and communicate the impact you think it had. Communicate effectively to help your teammate

Two: Stay professional – don’t let their jealousy negatively affect the way you work and collaborate. Again, even if their behavior becomes unprofessional, just give them feedback without letting too much emotion creep into it, and take the high road. Don’t make an uncomfortable situation worse by demonstrating bad behavior of your own.

Three: talk with your manager or your jealous coworker’s manager. A good people manager should be able to step into the situation, treat both of you fairly, and set expectations without taking sides. This is why managers get paid the big bucks, so use them.

Four: don’t take it personally. You might be the unfortunate object of their jealousy, but it’s not really about you. That jealousy is their issue, and it’s up to them to get over it.

Five: don’t let it affect your self confidence. I’m just going to assume you earned your promotion to Lead Designer. And that is about you. Their jealousy doesn’t even necessarily mean they don’t think you’re worthy or they don’t believe in your abilities, it just means they’re disappointed they didn’t get what they wanted. Your view of yourself should not be affected at all by someone else’s jealousy.

Listen, professional jealousy is not a good look for anyone. It’s petty, it’s often a sign of insecurity or selfishness. You can’t control whether someone else falls into this trap. But you can take accountability for you. Draw the circle around yourself, work on everything inside of that circle, be kind and generous toward others…

…and keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What is Design for Delight?

Referenced in this episode:

Support UX Questions

Visit us on Patreon and check out the great perks at each level of support!

Become a sponsor

You can advertise your products or services—our promote yourself as a UX professional—by sponsoring episodes of UX Questions! See the Sponsor page for details.

Hire Ben Judy

Ben is available for consulting engagements as a workshop facilitator, mentor, design coach, and more! See the Ben page for details.