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How to Handle a Co-Worker Who Resents You

by Lisa McQuerrey

Working with someone who resents you can be uncomfortable, particularly if the colleague is unable to veil her hostility or jealousy. Consider your colleague’s reasons for harboring these feelings toward you. She might think you’re favored by the boss, usurping a role she believes should be hers, or she might have personal anger-management issues.

Job Promotion

If you received a job promotion, a better office, a higher salary or any type of work a co-worker feels she’s entitled to, it can cause resentment. The co-worker may talk about you under her breath, insinuate you are unqualified or undeserving for what you received, or be outwardly hostile toward you in group settings. Meet privately with this colleague to discuss the issue openly and honestly. “Mary, ever since I was promoted you've been angry with me. I know you wanted the job as much as I did, and I'm sorry you're disappointed. We still have to work together, and I'd like to find a way for us to get along. What do you suggest?”

Perceived Favoritism

If you have a good working relationship with your boss that borders on friendship, your colleagues may be resentful of the closeness and perceive it as favoritism, particularly if you're given a plum assignment or seem to get preferential treatment. If this is the case, dial back the public perception of your friendly relationship with your manager. Even if your manager treats all staffers equally, lingering resentment over the perception of favoritism can affect the way your co-workers interact with you on team projects and group efforts. This can have a negative impact on your overall performance, and it can cut you out of the loop in terms of building good relationships with your colleagues.

Jealousy

Resentment often stems from jealousy. A colleague may wish she had your skills, personality, looks or any other number of personal or professional traits. This stems from insecurity, which you might be able to alter through genuine kindness. Point out the things the co-worker does that are positive or exceptional and recognize her efforts in front of others. This can help her focus more on herself and what she is capable of and be less resentful of you.

Justifiable Resentment

Consider whether your colleague has any justifiable reasons for resenting you. Do you come in late, leave early or rely on your colleagues to pick up the slack when you don't manage your own time wisely? If you aren't a contributing member of the team who shows respect and kindness to others but just gets by on the coat tails of your hardworking co-workers, your colleague’s resentment may be justified. Examine your own behavior and see if an attitude adjustment on your part improves your professional relationships.

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