It is one of the most shameful feelings to admit – the twinge of joy experienced when a colleague fails. Although you would prefer to be the person who celebrates your colleague’s success, you are not, you are envious. The guilt for having such ungenerous and negative thoughts leaves you feeling even worse.
Envy, one of the most excruciating feelings, is not just desiring what your colleague has achieved, it is wanting to destroy what he has because his success has come to feel like your misfortune. Rather than trying to understand how he achieved his position and how you could improve in this regard by healthy competition, you are convinced that the unfairness of the situation justifies a retaliation.
This can explain why good ideas are trashed at meetings, why malicious gossip is spread and why extremely competitive work environments underperform or even fail. Indeed, while envy is usually thought of as an individual problem, when hidden and not managed it can damage a company’s operational and financial performance.
Individually, it damages the person himself, as one film producer discovered. He explains how his feelings of envy eventually spoilt his capacity to take pleasure in his own success.
“It is a horrible feeling when you see someone release a film and you are willing it to do badly, it can make you feel very disgusted about yourself. You feel deep down that it is wrong – it doesn’t really enhance your success,” he says.