Q: I work in information systems and have average technical skills. I was recently promoted to a high-paying position and told my communication skills were the deciding factor...

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Q:

I work in information systems and have average technical skills. I was recently promoted to a high-paying position and told my communication skills were the deciding factor. Since then, co-workers with higher technical skills are resentful. Do I ignore this or address it?

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A:
Most people cannot admit or deal with jealousy.

Envy leaves us with a hollow feeling that we are inadequate. Most people can’t tolerate feeling inadequate, so they get mad, belittling or avoiding the person who makes them feel small.

Promotions used to be based largely on technical skills, but the business world now recognizes that people skills are desperately needed.

Realize that your co-workers are probably confused about why you were promoted.

When people are jealous of you, they either want what you have and believe they can get it, or want what you have and believe they can’t.

If someone believes the situation is hopeless, their goal will be to destroy or devalue your success. Talking to folks who feel this way will not help you.

In your case, only approach co-workers who think they can be promoted.

Say something like, “I don’t know how you feel about my promotion, but I know and our boss knows your technical skills are far beyond mine. The boss told me this decision was based on communication skills. I want to continue to work well with you, so is there anything you want to ask me about the promotion?”

Your sense of humility and caring will serve you well in repairing bridges among jealous co-workers.

If the open hostility of some colleagues impairs your job, address the behavior, not your promotion.

Deeply jealous co-workers will refuse to discuss or acknowledge their problem with your success.

The last word(s)


Q:

Someone I like at work is mad because I helped her with a project. She thinks I helped her because she’s stupid. How do I clear this up?


A:

Acknowledge her concern, apologize for hurting her and state your intention. Realize that people respond to their translation of your behavior, not your actual intention.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube