Is your friend jealous of your success?
If you’re not sure, check out this article: She’s My Friend But I Think She’s Jealous Of My Success. You’ll find some tips in it that’ll help you.
If she’s jealous, and you haven’t been able to resolve it with her, then you’re probably feeling hurt and stressed. That’s okay; it’s natural to feel that way. How deeply the situation is affecting you depends on the nature of your friendship: the closer and deeper the friendship is, the worse it feels.
If you work with her there’s an extra layer of stress because if things get out of hand it can damage your career and hers, too.
But what can you do?
Congratulations! You’ve had a success.
Yep, your friend’s behaviour has taken the gloss off it, but that’s the point. This type of behaviour is intended to spoil the party for you. She doesn’t have what you’ve got, and she doesn’t want you to enjoy it.
Bah to her! It’s your win and you deserve it. Don’t give your power away to her. Enjoy your moment, pat yourself on the back and celebrate your achievement.
Check in with your conscience before you decide how you’ll celebrate. I know it’s tempting to rub her nose in it, but if you do you’ll be stooping to her level. You’re better than that. Resist the temptation.
Once you’ve enjoyed your moment, we can start working out how to handle the situation because the key to everything starts with self. Let’s start work on how you to handle yourself.
Clear Your Head
I remember the first time this happened to me. My bestie at work had encouraged me to apply for an internal promotion and she’d been super supportive throughout the process. But things changed overnight when I got the job. She gave me the Cold Shoulder treatment so badly that I almost got frostbite.
I tiptoed around her hoping things would settle. Then one day I caught her bad-mouthing me to another colleague. I can still remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The whole thing did my head in. I couldn’t stop obsessing about it.
If I had my time over again, I’d work on clearing my head as soon as I could. If you’ve got strategies you use to clear your head, then now’s the time to use them. Here’s what I do, so feel free to try it.
Grab a blank piece of paper and a pen. Write as if you’re having a conversation with yourself, and make sure to address yourself by name. Then write whatever is in your stream of consciousness and don’t stop until you’ve run out of things to say.
For example, I’d write the first question like this:
‘Okay Jacqui, what’s going through your mind about this?’
Go with the flow and let your pen follow wherever your mind goes – even if it seems to be off track. Once you’ve finished, turn the pages over without reading them and put them aside (we’ll come back to them a little later). Take a short break, drink a glass of water and then come back.
Okay, now we’re going to do some more stream of consciousness work, this time by answering a different question:
‘Do I deserve to be treated like this? Why?’
When you’ve finished writing your answer, read all your writing from the beginning. Jot down the emotions you feel. Once you’ve done that, identify any negative emotions and then write the opposite (positive) emotion next to it. For example, if I’d done this when I had the issue with my bestie, I’d have written:
(If you’re down on yourself and need more help, have a read of this article)
When you’re done, turn to a fresh page. Write a new list, this time with only the positive emotions. My list would’ve been:
These are your antidote emotions. Whenever you feel yourself triggered by the situation with your jealous BITC, focus on these emotions.
I suggest you write them down somewhere where you can easily remind yourself of them. It’ll take practice, but it’ll help.
Now that you’ve cleared your head, you can try to understand what’s going on with her.
What Pulled Her Trigger?
Why bother to understand the BITC? Because she’s human, like you, and when we’re in conflict with someone we can so easily forget that. It’ll help you to choose your response, too. Understanding what’s she jealous about, and why it’s set her inner bitch off, are the first steps in deciding how to handle the situation. Let’s start by taking a closer look at where it started (we’ll talk some more about your response later).
A word of caution before you read on. This exercise is about trying to understand what may’ve triggered her behaviour. It’s NOT about fixing her, you, or the situation. Ready? Okay, let’s go.
Remember the Power Dead Even rule?
Female relationships function on a delicate balance of Self-Esteem and Power. BITC-type behaviour can be triggered if either side of the scales tips out of balance. Because this situation is related to a success of yours, I’m guessing it’s something on the Power side of the scales.
As you go through these exercises, remember to try stepping into her shoes to see the situation from her perspective.
Were There Any Early Warning Signs?
Her sense of imbalance may’ve been building for a while. Look back in time for possible signs such as reactions or comments that seemed a bit ‘off’. You may’ve ignored them because she was a friend who had a credit balance in your relationship bank.
Write it all down on a blank piece of paper. You might be tempted to dismiss things because they seem too silly. Don’t.
When you’ve run out of steam, take a short break. Do something head clearing or relaxing, then look back over your list. Note which SAS category might apply to each item. The early warning signs will help you with the next part of the exercise.
How was your relative Success, Attractiveness, and Status (SAS) before this happened? Remember to consider how it might look from her perspective.
- Dead Even: You were both at about the same level on all aspects of SAS.
- In Overall Balance: You may not have been at the same level for every element, but there was an overall balance. For example, she had higher status but you were more successful than her, and you were equally attractive.
- Tipped in Her Favour: She considered that she had the upper hand on you in one or more of the SAS.
What Was Your Success?
What event/s triggered her reaction? Something changed. It may not be the only thing going on in your relationship, but it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.
What type of success have you had? Was it one or more of the following?
- Increased Status: For example, getting a promotion or increasing your wealth.
- Increased Attractiveness: For example, losing weight, a new hair style or even a new
- Increased Success: For example, receiving an accolade or winning an award.
When you’re finished, summarise your SAS analysis in way that helps you see the full picture. Here’s a brief example of how I do it.
|Why?||Balance After||What Changed?|
|Status||= Even||We were peers||+ Me||I got promoted|
|Attractiveness||+ Her||She just is||+ Her||Nothing|
|Success||+ Me||I won an award for excellence||++ Me||Award contributed to my promotion|
Now that you understand the dynamic, we’re finished working on trying to understand her. Remember, we did this exercise for you, so I hope you’re feeling some relief from having a better understanding of what’s going on – even if you don’t like it. My recommendation is to move on now. You’ve spent enough energy here. It’s time to focus on what you can do; what she chooses to do is up to her.
But before you do, I want to share with you some of my experiences. They’re important because they add real world context to the advice in this article.
The Power Can’t Always Be Dead Even
If you’ve read my other articles, you’ll have noticed that I often refer to this framework as a tool. I find the Power Dead Even model to be a useful tool for understanding the dark side of female competition. The model’s author, Dr Pat Heim, suggests that when you’ve got a BITC situation you take actions to ‘flatten the power’ and neutralise the effect of the power imbalance. You can do this by doing things to minimise the impact of your power, or to boost her self-esteem.
This can be effective. I remember a situation where I was working quite closely with a senior female executive. It was early days and I didn’t know her very well. One morning the two of us arrived early for a meeting. She got up to make herself a cup of tea, but before she headed off to the kitchen, she asked me if she could make me something. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, isn’t that lovely of her.’ She flattened the power and it worked with me. But …
It can also back fire. Another time I was at a business function with a female colleague that I was mentoring (I’ll call her Nina). There were mainly men there, and Nina was holding their attention with her conversation. When the waitress came around with wine to refill our glasses, Nina took the bottle and started topping up everybody else’s glass. When she tried to restart the conversation, people had lost interest, and several of the men turned their backs to start their own conversation. Nina, without realising, had fallen into the trap of reinforcing a negative female stereotype.
The bottom line is that sometimes you can’t flatten the power.
If you’re working in a male dominated environment, be aware of the signals you send with your behaviour. Some of the things we women might do to flatten power (such as making someone a cup of coffee, or having a social chat, or playing down accolades) may look different to men. Men might see these behaviours as evidence you’re not competent, or that you’re a time waster or subservient.
There’ll be more on this subject in another article, but for now, let’s get back to your situation.
What Can You Do?
Your number one controllable is you. You can choose how you respond to her, and how much you let it affect you. You can’t control her, so don’t waste any energy trying. Instead, focus your energy on managing yourself, and doing what’s important in your life.
Use your antidote emotions as often as you need to. Clear your head by using the stream of consciousness writing exercise we did earlier, or any other techniques that work for you. Check in with yourself regularly, and use the do’s and don’ts listed below to help.
|Honour yourself.||Hope it’ll just go away.|
|Check in on your own behaviour||Buy into the game by retaliating or gossiping.|
|Accept she may not be able to get over it.||Apologise for your success.|
|Use SAS analysis to help you choose your response and flatten the Power balance.||Grovel or overcompensate in your attempts to restore the Power balance.|
|Confide in someone if you need to. Choose who and when carefully.||Obsess about it. Use a confidante to help you vent and let it go.|
|Protect yourself personally and politically.
Be aware of how others see the situation.
Bad mouth her to colleagues or superiors. If they raise the subject, deflect, and move on.
I know you can do this. It will pass. When it does, you’ll be stronger, wiser and you’ll be able to help others in the same situation.
If you have some wisdom you’d like to share about all this, please use the comments section below. If you’d like to reach out to me, you can do that here.