Jealous co-worker resent your promotion?

Question: “I have moved back to my hometown and taken a position that I held 13 years ago. At the time, I was the only secretary/administrative assistant in the office. Now, there is a secretary and an administrative assistant, which is my position. The secretary resents me because she did not get this position. She did not get this position the last couple of times it was filled. She has a good friend in our IT Department and the two of them talk about me and things that go on in the office. The secretary also is abrupt to the public and uses profanity. I don’t like her talking about me and I feel that she should be more professional. What should I do?” — LS

See Comments below

newlypromoted March 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I started reading this last night because I too am trying to figure out how to deal with this issue since I received the promotion and she is upset. She has started stating things like she never finishes her work how can she be manager (yet, she pawns her’s off on others but, I’m not going there) I feel like I should defend myself but I know that it’s all because she is mad and truly feels the position should be hers. Her actions over the past few weeks have proven why she was not the best choice however, she does not see it. I am going to attempt to use some of the techniques and wording in this book. I just hope they help!

BellaGrl November 19, 2009 at 12:16 am

Hey sandy at least you have a boss who will listen. Mine does not listen the more I complain, pout,write down, the more he ignores me. I do believe people want to help here at my job they are just scared to be turned o as well by other people here st my job. It’s not fair, bujt I wish you luck. I am a supervisor of a call center and this woman has yelled, cussed, and disobeyed me too many times. I keep record of her daily actions but like I said nothing has been done. Sometimes I feel like the enemy.

Sandy July 14, 2009 at 11:48 am

Ads_Difficult People M

I have documented most everything and it has been reported to HR and my immediate supervisor. Due to unforeseen curcumstances in our office, nothing has been done. She is getting worse and it is not just towards me, she dishes out this treatment to everyone, employee or people, customers. She rules everything around here but that is changing as soon as my boss gets back. Thanks for all of your encouragement and well wishes.

Jarvis February 22, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Great point. Many times kindness is the way to handle problems, even in a bad situation. Your kind ways changed her heart better than trying for argue with her or using your authority. Great job and keep up the great work.

Cindy November 10, 2008 at 9:09 am

I was in this type of situation and it became very extreme. But the biggest problem was not the other employee, even though she was a real piece of work. It was our boss who was her best friend! I had NO WHERE to turn. I just rode it out by being pleasant when I had to deal with her and she eventually left but not before she had alienated everyone in the office with her attitude.

Jae November 7, 2008 at 2:41 pm

I so must agree with AMH. AMH pretty much covered it. Sometimes you just have to shake it off and keep going. Now, if there is profanity directed toward you then by all means, notify HR and from what you wrote, it seems like profanity comes easy for her, therefore it may not be a good idea to approach her. If you do go to HR, have your facts straight and notes accurate.

Christine November 7, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Congratulations on your promotion.

I agree that killing her with kindness is always a positive direction. However, you are not there to be her friend and I would not attempt to get to know her on a personal level. Leave that to her therapist. You can’t demand respect, but if she has no respect for you for being a member of her team, (which is obvious by her demeanor) you have to expect that she will not respect you as a person either.

Continue to do your job to the best of your ability. Your professionalism has obviously been noticed by your senior managers. If she crosses the line and becomes abusive, then it’s time to go above her and speak to her boss.

Cynthia November 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Regardless of your promotion, she is exercising “harassment,” and a warning can be completed by her superior. There is no room for profanity in an office environment.

Good Luck in your new positions, and hold you head up with grace!

Karen Kosmoski November 7, 2008 at 1:00 pm

I agree with Patty; kill her with kindness. It is very hard to react negatively to a positive attitude. Ignore the negative. I would not get involved in attempting to “retrain” her. Sometimes these things come back to bite you. My attitude is to be positive, helpful and pleasant while doing my job to the best of my ability. She will come around eventually and probably end up doing you good in the end. That’s how its worked for me in the past.

mary November 6, 2008 at 11:10 am

Abruptness and profanity should not be tolerated. This is the topic I would discuss with your supervisor and/or HR. It’s this action that will carry more clout as it’s a reflection on your company. It’s then possible for you to mention the negative comments being made about you. However, I would be careful how you mention these negative comments as that may be seen as over-reacting on your part. Is there anyone else who has witnessed the profanity? Have any of your clients complained about the abruptness? Monitor these so you have a record should it be needed. Good luck.

Charlotte November 4, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I agree with you Ms. Miller someone has to be the bigger person in the end all will see who is and has the problem.

Diana November 4, 2008 at 8:32 am

If it really appears to be getting out of hand and you’re really uncomfortable and feel your reputation is being tarnished, I would suggest you take her out to lunch and discuss the situation as two adults. Remember to keep the accusatory language out (“I know YOU have been saying negative things about me; YOU are not being very cooperative, etc.). This will only make her more defensive. Try to get to know her on the personal level – who knows what other issues may be going on in her life that are leading to her bitterness. Including her in decisions on processes or changes that need to be made can also help improve her attitude. She needs mentoring and if your company offers this program, I would strongly suggest she partake.

Dee Miller November 3, 2008 at 8:19 am

This is not your problem, it is the secretary’s problem. Her jealousy will only continue to keep her in the position she now holds. You obviously got the job because you were better qualified. Under no circumstances should you let this person get you involved in a verbal confirtation as this is what she wants. Let her talk all she wants to. You be the bigger person and believe me it will not go unnoticed by your superiors.

Leotis Dunn November 3, 2008 at 8:18 am

I don’t know the full circumstances (both sides of the story) but I do recommend that you read the book “How to Use Power Phrases” by M. Runion. Using the suggestion in this book may help bring the other person to your side and most likely boost your “net-worth” as a person and as an employee/owner.

But until you read the book I would speak to her supervisor to get permission to train her to be promotable. I would personal start asking her to help me with projects even though I know that gossip will increase temporarily in the short term.

Every time you get the opportunity – praise her “good” work in front of others. Suggest corrections with options to undesirable actions in private. Ignore the fact that she got a knife in your back…make her feel that she is important in front of others and that you care about her. Most important do not act or be weak – you are not her “chump” you are her project manager. If you don’t understand that last statement you will after a couple of days of working with her.

I will end on the positive with everything I say or do with her because it is kind of hard for people to belittle a person that helping and showing true interest in them.

If that don’t work at least everyone that matters have seen that you have put forth the effort to help her and that she chose to remain in the “gutter” or resentment and self-pity. Remember this is your world too and you can choose how you want to live in it.

Anon November 1, 2008 at 7:31 pm

First of all, do not run to HR. You are both big girls. Choose – try to ignore childish schoolyard behavior or keep a record (agree – not at work). People who do not get the promotion or another situation like the person whose job you have was fired – in either case is not your responsibility. These ones cannot take it out on the person(s) who actually made the decision but choose to take it out on the person who did receive the job. Be brave and courageous, dignified and do not concern yourself with these people. They have no real influence over you then.

ANON October 31, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Ah yes, the jealous co-worker. I believe we all have them in our office, and although we would like to ignore their actions—their words still hurt us at work and after we leave the office.

There really isn’t anything you can do unless she does something that truly warrants her being written up or fired. You do, however, have your own self-respect and need to remember that her jealousy is far, far beneath you.

Continue to do your job, do it well and with pride.

Patty October 31, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Dear LS – First of all, congratulations on getting this position! It shows that you left a great impression and were a top-notch employee before you left the first time.

Secondly, it boggles my mind that people are still that childish in the workplace.

When I got my present position (in 1996), starting out as Secretary, then evolving to Executive Assistant/Manager Administration, there was one person in the office who thought she should have been the successful applicant. Her way of letting me know that was to pretend she knew nothing, whenever I asked her a question about the position. She didn’t remember how to do the job.

She had filled in, on many occasions, on the position, when the then secretary was away, so she knew the job fairly well. Anyway, to make a long story short, I literally “killed her with kindness”. I thanked her whenever she did not help me, and I smiled at her every chance I got. Basically, I let her know that her animosity was not going to hurt my chance to be the best assistant I could be. It took about a month or so, but she eventually came around and started to be friendly once she realized that I was a stronger applicant and had more experience.

Hope this helps and good luck with it. Patty

Anon October 31, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Unless her actions directly affect your job, do nothing. However, to protect yourself, keep track of what is said & when, in a notebook which you keep offsite. If you speak to HR, you may be perceived to be a whiny complainer, especially if your coworker is competent to do her job . You also could consider talking to your boss (of course, showing him/her the entries in your notebook) that you have noticed this behavior, and just want him/her to be aware that it might affect corporate “image” The boss may not know that the secretary is not customer-friendly with the public, or the secretary is so entrenched that nothing can happen. I was in a similar situation some years ago. Keeping the journal made me feel better about myself, as the coworker was a “favorite” of management. I knew that talking to HR would be counterproductive and eventually, the coworker left the company for a better job elsewhere. What matters the most: don’t let her negative comments affect you. It’s not your fault that she didn’t get the promotion. Be the professional that you are, and let it go!

Sonya B October 31, 2008 at 2:06 pm

make a recommendation to the big boss or HR of terminating her. It obvious that she is being kept on for some reason, but now its time for a change.

AMH October 31, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Unfortunately, every office has drama and jealousy. Unless you are willing to keep track of what is being said so you can approach HR to talk about the situation, your best bet is to ignore them both. She knows she didn’t get the job because she wasn’t qualified (or maybe her reputation has gotten around the office) so it probably hurts her to have to admit that to herself. I know saying “ignore them” is easier said than done, but the only people they are hurting are themselves. You might want to bring it to your boss’s attention just so they are aware that YOU are aware of what is going on.

Your only other option is to sit down with both people and talk things out but this can sometimes make things worse so don’t do it if you aren’t sure it will help the situation.

It’s too bad people have to belittle others sometimes to make themselves feel better, but that’s what happens with rejection sometimes!

Michele October 31, 2008 at 1:26 pm

I would speak with HR and let them know some of the issues that are going on with this person. They are the ones to handle an issue like this.