My Ex-Colleagues Jeopardizing My Career

Question and answer details
Hana (45-female-Saudi Arabia)
My ex-colleagues are jeopardizing any new opportunity that comes my way simply because they are in the organizations that are asking me join. One such colleague was my assistant whom I helped and encouraged while he was working for me. Unfortunately, I live in a country where gossip thrives not factual information and jealousy is rampant. I am really getting destitute as to how to handle it. Confronting will only empower these colleagues. I have to alter my perceptions so what can I do or how can I see these mishaps?
Razia Aamaarah, Bhatti `Ali

Dear Hana,

Asalaam alaikum,

Thank you for your question. I am getting the impression that you are trying to get into a different organization which is where the behaviour of your ex colleagues is causing obstacles. You are right that in certain cultures jealousy and gossip can be a major problem preventing success particularly for women. Although there is no easy way of dealing with this as it all depends on the context of the situation, I can offer you some suggestions.

Jealousy in the workplace can be very difficult to deal with, especially when you are the target. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix but there are a number of ways that you can cope with it, depending on the circumstances and your own personality. The first thing to establish is to be sure that the problem really does stem from jealousy and that you haven't mistaken it for another problem.

Find out from other people/colleagues whether there has been a previous issue with the jealous ex-colleagues, or if it is something that is directed at you only. You may be looking at the situation in one way but maybe those who are less personally involved may have a different view. You may want to critically evaluate your own behavior and identify if you have done anything to aggravate your ex colleagues behavior such as talking about your successes which may cause resentments in co-workers.

If your ex colleagues are gossip mongering and being destructive as a result of jealousy the chances are that the jealousy is little to do with you and all to do with them. That is they are the ones who have a problem. However, it is worth considering your own behaviour and whether or not there is anything you can do to change it to improve the matter. By that I mean that they may have interpreted your behaviour as threatening to their position or their chances of promotion. If there is something you can do to change that perception, then try it as it might alleviate the problem before it becomes out of control.

If you are still convinced that it is your colleague that has the problem, then approaching them in private but without launching an attack on them, may help smooth things over. Once you have understood your colleague's point of view, it may help you to feel less offended and therefore cope with their behaviour without feeling overwhelmed with. You may be able to explain your point of view and put things in the proper context. Once your colleague understands you are not really a threat, the situation could be resolved.

Another technique is to keep away as not all people like a confrontation. You may want to speak to someone senior as sometimes the situation may become so awkward that you may not be able to avoid the situation but also may find it difficult to deal with in fear of making matters worse. In this case, you should report the situation to someone else, especially if it is beginning to affect your future prospects.

I hope the above suggestions will help you start to manage your problems.