Because everyone should dig their job

Jealous co-worker

By Joan Lloyd

Dear Joan:
I work in a small group of six, for a university project that is contracted out by the state.  We are a field-based project and are contractually required to work in the state office.  One of my teammates (also works for the university) who, when I started a year ago was in the same position as me, an educational specialist.  A few months later she was promoted to senior educational specialist, but, by no means, was my boss.  When we work on new projects together, it has been requested by our supervisor that we all work as 'a team' and on the same level (there are three other senior educational specialists. I'm the only educational specialist). 
 
At first, everything was fine, but my boss has always sung my praises because I work hard, perform well, and my learning curve has come around quickly.  It seems that the better I do, the more irritated and rude my co-worker becomes to me.
 
We've come to a head a few times, but arguing with her is futile.  I have gone to my boss and she acknowledges the problem with my co-worker and, as it may have crossed a line, bad mouthed her, calling her a prima donna.  Just recently, my boss brought her up on disciplinary action, for offending another co-worker.  However, she is still here and continually rude to me, giving me nasty glares, dismissing me and the work that I do, including making comments in front of our team at meetings, calling my work insignificant. 
 
The other factor that I can mention, that I would never flaunt, but I think plays a part, is that I am 28 and she is 43, and I am equal in education level and work quality.  I also recently got married, have a house, and as a result of having grown up in an affluent family, had some experiences that others haven't, including her.  To my fault, I have excitedly talked about some of the trips I have gone on, and things I have done, not realizing that it might have come off as bragging, when I didn't mean it to be.  I have gathered that this is a sore spot for her, since she has made snide comments about it to me in passing.
 
I am not sure how to remedy this situation.  I can't speak directly to her because she won't be receptive to it (I've tried).  My boss has recently gotten tougher on her with the disciplinary action (which I think might have come as result from a conversation we had about how I can't understand how this woman is allowed to get away with the comments she makes).  I think my boss gives me preferential treatment, which has been earned, however, this women resents it.  This has actually started affecting productivity of the team because we cannot work together on projects.
 
 I don't know how to fix this, or if it is even worth fixing. Do you have any words of wisdom you could share?
 
Answer:
In spite of her age, education and capability, your co-worker has taken direct aim at her own foot. In fact, she has shot herself in the foot repeatedly, since her boss has written her up for being inappropriate with other co-workers, as well.
 
You can’t help it that you won the gene pool, but I’m glad you recognize those less fortunate might feel envious. At work, you’re wise to tone down talk about your economic advantages. I agree that it probably fanned your co-worker’s flames of resentment. Her behavior suggests that she feels insecure and strikes out when others outperform her, or seem “better” than her in any way.
 
Your best course of action is to continue to work well with the rest of the team (who doubtless feel the same way you do about this co-worker) and leave the rest to your manager. Don’t get sucked into the drama. Stay above it and continue to focus on your good work. The more you distance yourself from her, and continue to perform, the worse her behavior will probably become.
 
If she continues to disrupt team results, the manager will see it and hear about it, and she will be forced to take further disciplinary action, and/or terminate her. The outcome is in the hands of your co-worker—it will be interesting to see if she is mature enough to rise above her emotions.