Hater Much?: How to Handle Shade and Jealousy in the Workplace

4 steps to saving face and coming out on top

Caroline Wozniacki, a 22-year-old Danish tennis player, mocked Serena Williams by stuffing her shirt and skirt, causing backlash. (Image: File)

During a recent exhibition match in Brazil, Caroline Wozniacki, a 22-year-old Danish tennis player, decided to channel her inner curvaceous Serena Williams by stuffing her shirt and skirt with towels and prancing around the court. Wozniacki later told news outlets she was just poking fun at her friend and fellow player.

While the debate rages on about whether Wozniacki’s joke was racist, ignorant or just in poor taste, this isn’t the first time Williams’ famous physique and style has been mocked by her sports peers. The fact that Wozniacki has lost to tennis champ Williams five times this year may mean there’s a bit of jealousy there as well.

When making boss moves in your career, you too may encounter low-key shade or hater situations from peers in your workplace or industry. Here’s how to deal with it:

Keep it professional: While you may be tempted to hurl insults at the person who was trash-talking you, firing back will only diminish your professionalism. Take a cue from Williams—who has yet to comment on the incident—and keep your attitude in check. Take the high road. Avoiding unnecessary interactions with jealous colleagues can help defuse a hostile work environment.

Do a self assessment: If you have fallen victim to office envy, you may have to ask yourself, “Is it me?” Do you constantly boast about how much your boss likes you? Are you flaunting your promotion in front of other coworkers? Bad idea.

Carefully confront: If the situation gets to a point where your productivity is suffering, it’s time to do something about it. However, it’s imperative to pick the right words and use the right tone. The best way to approach your coworker is in a non-aggressive manner. Address him or her with specific concerns instead of using accusations of jealousy.

Take it in stride: Sometimes it’s best to pick your battles and not take every incident of shade seriously. Maintain relationships with positive coworkers to stay motivated. While the bite of jealous coworkers can leave you feeling down, creating a strong support system can eliminate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Don’t forget to let your haters be your motivators. Focus your energy on achieving your professional goals and keep it moving.

Have you ever experienced jealousy on the job? If so, how did you deal? #SoundOff and follow me on Twitter @JayNHarrison.

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