A Lesson in How Not to Deal with Workplace Jealousy


After writing three books focused on increasing business acumen among strategic communicators, co-author Matt Ragas and I are constantly looking for contemporary literature, TV shows and movies that might help students and young professionals get non-textbook lessons in business.

We often cite our favorite TV business show, Shark Tank, as well as important business movies like The Big Short, Moneyball and Margin Call.

So, of course, I had to check out the latest movie highly recommended by a friend who knows we are always searching for new, relevant ways to augment our mission. I hasten to note that I almost always read reviews in advance of devoting a couple of hours to movie watching. But it was a cold, rainy fall evening last night so I clicked on Netflix and promptly found the most popular movie of the day, “Fair Play.”

Ten minutes into the movie, I hit pause and texted my friend to ask why I should continue. “Besides the cut-throat insights about high-level financial trading, you’ll learn a lot about the importance of managing personal jealousy in the workplace.” So, I continued watching what turned out to be an exhausting psychological thriller.

As the final credits rolled across the screen, I sat there for several minutes asking myself what I just watched. And what positive or relevant insight I might have gained from this “business” movie.

Without a doubt the obvious takeaway is how jealousy can ruin relationships. And the vital role of anger management in personal and bushiness relationships.

From my experience, most of my Gen Z and Millennial students seem to celebrate each other’s success as we announce their promotions. However, I occasionally hear about a student or pro who was vying for a job or promotion and took the news hard when it went to a colleague.

Since watching the movie, I’ve read a lot of reviews and most quote psychologists.

USA Today’s review offered some great advice, including recognizing that jealousy is a natural human emotion. As psychologist Miranda Nadeau explains, “Treating yourself with kindness when it arises — rather than berating yourself or blaming yourself for being unsupportive — will also help with your feeling.”

“When we experience jealousy, we’re really coming up against what we see as threats in our own fear of loss,” adds Nadeau. “What it could mean about my career, if someone else is successful? What might I lose, based on what someone else is gaining? Recognizing the underlying dynamics is the first step in moving toward peace.”

Licensed clinical social worker Cecille Ahrens says, “Experiencing jealousy is not ‘good’ nor ‘bad.’ It usually signals that something in our life needs attention or healing.”

I seriously doubt if I’ll recommending this as an important business movie for aspiring communicators. But I would recommend it for anyone who has serious trouble controlling jealousy.

Want to save two hours? The official trailer pretty much tells you the whole story.

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