Dealing with Envious People

Reach a high enough level of success, skill or happiness, and you find out there are a lot of little green monsters around you, many of which you used to call friends, colleagues, partners or collaborators.

Since envy is a common and tricky interpersonal occurrence, I believe that dealing with envious people effectively is one of the important people skills to master. The primary thing to be acquainted with is not technique, but the fundamental philosophy of handling envious people. This is what I’ll focus this article on.

Reality Check

Before you think about dealing with envious people, answer this question: Are they really envious of you? You see, one thing I’ve noticed coaching people to improve their people skills is that in a many cases, envy is a false diagnostic.

What’s really going on is that a person has a better image of their skills or success than it’s warranted, so they act all arrogant and they expect special treatment. When this special treatment does not happen, the person wrongfully concludes that people are envious of them.

Here’s an example: a recruiter who believes they are the best recruiter in the company and should get the most important recruitment projects. However, their manager accurately believes that this person is not the best recruiter and gives them regular recruitment projects. So, the recruiter decides that their manager is just envious.

This is why it’s good to open your eyes really wide, notice what’s really going on and then decide if it’s a case of people green with envy or rather you being a self-righteous pain in the ass.

Putting Envious People in One of Two Boxes

If you decide that you’re dealing with real envy, the next thing I recommend is to think about those people who are envious of you and their real power to have a practical negative impact over you. Based on this, put them into one of two boxes:

  1. The Harmless Box. These are the people who besides making some bad jokes and not liking you very much don’t have the power or the guts to actually do something which can harm you.
  2. The Potential Threat Box. These are the people who do have enough power and nerve to potentially harm an aspect of your life, such as a work colleague who is very well trusted by all the top management in the company.

Ignore, Ignore, Ignore

The people in the first box are the people you just want to ignore. Let their jokes and passive-aggressive comments be like spears passing through water. There is no real harm they can do and often, if they see their comments have no effect on you, they eventually back off and continue hating you in silence.

By defending yourself in front of them or becoming passive-aggressive yourself, you are giving these people more importance than they deserve. Many of them are hopping this will happen, because they derive power not from real results, but from manipulative, power games.

Address Them Head On

The people in the second box, they are a different scenario. Since they can actually sabotage your career, relationships or life, you want to deal with them as soon as you notice comments or behaviors that suggest envy.

The first approach I recommend is talking to them. Point their conduct, express your honest opinions in a tactful way and seek to get their perspective on things. Yes, if your communication style is good enough, this does work and you can get the other person to back down.

If this approach fails, it’s time to put into play one of my favorite people skills: cutting this person’s power over you. This means you change your environment and your social dynamics so the envious person no longer has power to affect you.

One person I know who had an envious manager did so by becoming a good friend with and earning the trust of their manager’s manager. Another person with an envious manager did so by quitting their job and finding another one. Alternatives do exist; the essence is to act on them.

Envious people can be a bother, but they don’t have to. Know how to deal with them wisely, have the confidence and the people skills to do so, and they become insignificant; which is how I think envious people deserve to be.

Image courtesy of Darwin Bell


  1. Hi Eduard,

    Our feelings are a mirror. Envious people believe themselves to be inferior or possess some other negative emotions which create jealousy.

    To deal with these people I try to remain compassionate by realizing that they suffer. In more extreme cases I ignore them entirely and they usually leave my life quickly since I no longer pay attention to them.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.

    Ryan Biddulph

    • Hi Ryan,

      I think an awesome way to respond to envy is to elegantly mix compassion and ignoring it. I’ve noticed the same effect of ignoring envious people you mention: they eventually leave your live. You have nothing to offer them, which I believe, is a good thing.

  2. Being a non-confrontational person, I prefer the option to ignore, ignore, ignore. However, I know that there are times when addressing the person (in the right way) is a far superior answer. Great article!

    • Thanks Nea,

      They way I see it, being non-confrontational is a good idea, but only up to a certain point. Sometimes, it’s best to get your hands dirty.

  3. This is a great post, Eduard. These are good ways to deal with envious people. They can sometimes be a nuisance, but we just have to learn how to deal with them or ignore them so that they don’t bring us down.


  4. Good advice your sharing for dealing with envious people. I think if your dealing with envious people just keepin it movin is the best policy.

  5. It seems important to consider envy in relationships as this can lead to resentment, and if it goes further can lead to anger and harm. Harm can be anywhere from slander, to harassment, to actual physical harm. If someone who you have daily contact with resents something you have, it’s important to try and address this, and help the other person work through their feelings toward you. Harboring malevolent feelings in good for no one. Thanks for insights!

    • Hi Joe,

      Relationships are definitely an important ground, and if you wanna make them work, I think it’s best do address the envy head on instead of ignoring it. At the same time, if a relationship is rooted in envy, that doesn’t say much about its worth.

  6. People feel envious coz they want to manipulate others lives at their whims, they are inside the box thinker. One needs to take care of one’s strings, else, there are lot of people everywhere who love puppets.

  7. Insightful post. The last thing you want to do is breed more negativity when you encounter someone who is envy of your success. Either ignore him/her, or have a constructive conversation.. Most of the time their envy is due to ignorance of the situation. If you explain everything to them, they might understand that their envy is unwarranted.

  8. Hi Eduard! I agree with idea that “There is no real harm they can do.” Others can only harm us if we give them the power to do so. If we ignore their attempts, like you say, and at the same time act lovingly towards them, things tend to take care of itself in amazing ways.

    Thanks for your fresh perspective! Loving blessings!

    • Hi Andrea,

      It took me a while to actually understand this idea at a deep level, but now I’m a firm believer in it: In this modern world, others can’t really harm us. What may seem as them harming us is us harming ourselves emotionally, usually as a result of faulty thinking.

      • Very nice article, Eduard, thank you. Are there any words of wisdom for someone whose life was negatively affected by malice and slander from envious people?

        • Yeah, 3 of them: Get Over It 🙂

          It’s easier said than done, but that really is the essence of it all in my view. Let the past stay in the past.

  9. Eduard: I think you did a good job of really breaking down envy in this post.What I really appreciated about this post was your suggestion to really try to determine where other people are coming from and understand the things that may be motivating their behaviors that are negatively impacting you. I think it is always helpful to understand exactly where people are coming from and then you can make certain you respond in the best way to get the best results.

  10. Eddy,

    Good post – it made me think. I think maybe I am not so conscious of green monsters in my life and I don’t particularly want to be either. Generally, the more successful you are, the more people “hate” you. What you did really well here was putting them in two boxes, one’s that actually CAN affect your life negatively. Very, very, very, good point.

    • Hi Mathieu,

      Thumbs up if you’re not very conscious of the envious people around you, because most of them, all they can do is just make you feel bad with their mean comments. But you usually have to be aware of their envy for this to really work.

  11. I have come to the consensus that, to large extent that a majority of people are generally miserable.

    If one is not particularly brilliant or skilled in a particular area, people make fun and criticize you. If one is intelligent or gifted in a particular area, then of coarse one’s envied.

    Stubbornness and ignorance aren’t a particularly good combination. Sometimes, the best that we can do is to listen and be understanding. At times it is necessary to confront in a tactful manner. And on other occasions, it becomes necessary to stay clear of situations or influences that are hindrances to one’s quality of life.

    Many times more easy said than done!

    We all pretty much want the same things. That’s a good place to start and offer what we can in that regard. Tolerating or subjecting oneself to another person or groups repeated ignorant abusive behaviors is an insult both to you and the persons doing it. Lots of things can compromise the integrity of our identity denying us of healthful interaction.

    It good to be happy with others in their accomplishments and achievements along with admiring their talents. Just as it is equally good to be empathetic with others during their personal hardships and challenges along with the difficulties they may have with learning new skills.

    Envy is very ugly and can be potentially dangerous to everyone involved.

    • “I have come to the consensus that, to large extent that a majority of people are generally miserable.”

      Sad, but true from my perspective. Envy is typically fed by discontent with ones life. And there’s plenty of that around us.

  12. At times, I resent other peoples’ success.But as I’ve gotten older,I’ve learned to focus on my life.

  13. Envious people can hurt you. It is not a 100% true that no one can hurt you unless you give them the power to because the prison system is full of examples that say otherwise. People murder, steal,lie, and cheat because of envious dispositions.. Kane killed able (his brother).. Lucifer was envious of god (just biblical examples so people can understand, not necessarily religious).

    In my opinion it is just a human trait that you have to learn how to maneuver around and even remove yourself totally from sometimes.

  14. I never knew how horrible envy could be. Because I’ve been afraid of confrontation things have gotten out of control for me over the years. I had several cases where the other was accusatory of things, slandering my work, and causing my lowering of results. I lost reputation and in one I had to leave a job I actually enjoyed except for the intense envy coming from different angles. When my best friend on the job was the one that was acting to sabotage my work that was the last string. I realized that my place in the company was over since one other manager was already against me. It makes no sense. I have no desire to put individuals down and have been downplaying my actual abilities and smarts my entire life. And it’s not a good thing to leave a job in an unstable economy. I’m really looking for answers to deal with it cause I now realize it’s everywhere and a lesson I’m having to learn to deal with. It is one of the deadly sins after all!

    • Envy is the opposite of Admiration.
      I wish you seeking and finding people who admire and respect you.
      It’s intolerable and unconscionable what envious sociopaths and others can do.
      Envy is closely related to bullying I’ve found.
      Bullies try it on and I say Stop no more.
      We live in a world where bullying has reached epidemic proportions and the green eyed monsters are out there trying to pull down anyone who has any character or value.
      Be and value your fine qualities and achievements.

  15. The envious can do you immense harm; I have encountered people who have been jealous and envious of me all my life in a wide variety of environments. One of the things which they do is to try to reduce your self esteem and your self concept in an effort to raise themselves above you, which is where they consider themselves to rightfully be, the later out of a rabid sense of resentment. The way I see it is that G_D, our Creator, wishes for us to realize our highest potential; and the jealous, the envious and the resentful stand in oppostion to what I believe is the will of G_D. They are practicing evil and you better believe they know it. It’s something I could not understand growing up, why so many people were out to treat me so poorly, particularly in group settings, how often people grouped together in an effort or in order to scapegoat me. I have always found that ignoring it is only feeding the fire because people will get more and more outrageous in their conduct, more slanderous and offensive in their comments, more vulgar and hateful in their attitude. When I haven’t responded, in one particular series of ongoing incidents, the envious person became furious and exclaimed that I thought I was MORALLY superior to her. She recognized the IMMORALITY of her own behavior and she was angry that I wouldn’t stoop to her level. She didn’t feel ashamed of her conduct, she was furious because I couldn’t be goaded into behaving in a similar, hateful and hostile fashion. And you know what, when I finally decided to give her a little taste of her own medicine, she immediately filed a written complaint with our employer. Just what you’d expect. I do not sympathize with such people. When you try to address the issue with them, they slither sideways like snakes, trying to take your attention and to lead the focus of the conversation somewhere else. I have met legions of these types. They are manipulative and they will pretend to be reasonable people for a little while, just long enough to draw you in, because they know that all you would like is a rational, friendly and secure work environment; but they aren’t happy with their lives, either at work or at home, or they simply aren’t happy with who they are and they want to take it out on someone and they figure you are about the right size. Anything you do to persuade them otherwise will be taken by them to be a superior attitude or arrogance or whatever, they simply cannot offer you any kind of respect or kindness because they are often miserable and mean people who hold little respect for their own selves. Sometimes, they will say something you will find cutting and offensive, and you will think, what a hateful person, and in the next minute they are all smiles and behaving very friendly with someone else. Stop and consider that the other person may very well be as no good as them, they may see things eye to eye. The majority of humanity is miserable in one way or another. People often compare themselves to others when that is the last thing they should be doing. I think that is the big problem, people comparing themselves to others and deciding that the other person has no right to own something, to be something, to feel something, to want something or someone that they themselves feel is out of their own reach. I have recently been trying to help a couple of people who as it turns out are only to happy to be helped, in fact it has quickly become obvious that they would like nothing better than to take advantage of me in any way they can while offering to assist me with the things that I need, only in such a way as to frustrate me completely if I were fool enough to listen to them or to take their advise. That is the thing about the envious, you seek friendship or at least mutual cooperation for mutual benefit, they seek their own benefit and view you as a rival whose good can only detract from their sense of their own. Knowing that they envy your every success, they cannot be your friends, ever.

    • Exclaim I in deep appreciation..(not the trite sense) Oh my God! What a blessing this article and Harry’s post especially ministered to some deep wounds and shed so much more light on what can be so confusing when you are suffering at the hands of a few people who, rather than focusing on creating a life for themselves that they love, have rather, after having taken envy’s bait, discovered that it’s cold cruel hook being lodged in their palate has corrupted their ability to taste, as it were, much, if any, appreciation for others joy’s or virtues or what they might interpret as success’s.
      I pray this conversation continues for workable solutions.

      In response to Eduards assertion that “others can’t really harm us. What may seem as them harming us is us harming ourselves emotionally” I am glad that many pointed to the REALITY that the envious can do great harm!!! So Now, having said that, and inside the context of assuming the acceptance of the reality that the envious can and “do” great harm, i think Eduard could actually be pointing to the only place where we can find our OWN responsibility in the matter, which is “How much of our very own unique and precious gift of POWER* have we given away by: playing small in life, giving up the greatest parts on our unique calling and most noble dreams, sacrificing So Much of our G_D given BIRTHRIGHT of our very own unique Full Self Expression! Our having been endowed by our Creator with our very own special gifts and talents that G_D has charged to our care to be responsible for, while observing ourselves in the humility as our being empowered and under the great charge of our G_D, our Lord and King and Savior, and that by the acceptance of His Grace, we are able to do so without the guilt of denying our own selfish and fallen human nature, but rather accepting ourselves in the light of the righteousness He has given us, if we have indeed accepted this, lest we think to highly of ourselves.
      So having acknowledged myself as under grace, i must confess that i now more fully realize my having acquiesced to fear my willingness to be fully vulnerable and put myself at risk, out on the skinny branches as it were, of my own full self expression, and acknowledge my own responsibility for the costs of the possibilities and opportunities to be a contribution to humanity (myself included in humanity) that i have allowed to be aborted, and here by now take a stand, to fight on with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness and self control, and to keep on getting up and dusting myself off when i fall.

    • STARSEED says:

      Thank you Harry! This is a real and clearsighted analysis of envy and the envious.

      You are right. If they can harm you they will. People who are seriously envious are not to be trusted. They draw you in and then use everything they can against you. They are best avoided and if you are not in a position to avoid them it is a bad idea to try to win them over by kindness and friendliness. This will be seen as a weakness and a way to get leverage. Don’t underestimate what someone who is rally envious of you will do.

      I am not talking here about someone who gets a little envy at times and is honest with themselves and tries to do the right thing. That is not a problem.

  16. Hi guys

    I am really suffering and i got big problem
    I am studying car engineering and i went to carrage nearst my home and i offer my self to work for free but there is guys who come from diffrent country and he working there i am not sucssesfull i am just helping them in garage but the problem he doesnt stop keep telling me of and treat with me with bad manner i have tried with him many kind of communication i try to be very kindness but that increase him to be rod . The owner of garage like me and keep joking with me but this guys make me fucking sick he make me walk and talk with my self in the road because his bad atitude . I really want to know what i have to do with ass hoal

  17. Senesie says:

    Envy is too bad to live with,we all should be very careful and wise in dealing with people who envy us,they can either be our friend,famillies,co_worker,or complete stranger.envious people very dangerious,they are a green snake in a green grass,they are tricky and too cunny,they often smile while thinking t ok hurt you,they can be very wicked.They use all dirty game just to harm you,envy people slander,sabotage.

  18. Yes, envy is detrimental to your peace of mind and happiness. I have been a target of envious people or/and bullies too. The first one: my own mother; following by my sisters and some “friends”. Later, and the great majority: co-workers. I have been a target all my life! it’s getting old and I still have not learned to deal with it. I have ignored, ignored and ignored it but they have relentlessly continued their sadistic game. I have principles, compassion, ethics, and politeness, which are supposedly wonderful qualities; but they are the ones that prevent me from going down to my enviers level and give them a teaspoon of their own poison. I guess my low self-esteem and insecurity adds to the mix. One thing I have experienced is that bullies and envious people are like kids behaving badly. they know that what they are doing is wrong but they keep pushing the limits. As with naughty kids who stop their misbehavior once you deal with them as an authoritarian parent, these enviers and bullies do so too. Amazing! I don’t think I could turn into the scary “parent” that applies punishment to their naughty kids. I really don’t agree with that kind of “parenting” or in my case with that kind of response and treatment to others. I could explode once and make them stop for maybe a couple of weeks but that will be it. I perceive that it is as if the perpetrators are asking for a disciplinarian. Once I read that sadist make the best masochists. Then I would have to behave as the worst sadist of all and I don’t want to because I am proud to having

  19. At this point I am fighting envy within myself. Envy my boss, his wife, his life, the money they spend then most recent my bosses boss for the money he spends when he visits from HQ, travel, meals. Causing a lot of resentment and knowing me it will show in my dealings with them at work.
    Solution: Start with listing my blessings – i read list 100 per day for a week. That itself should change the thought focus and pattern. I need it to work for myself and for my family.

  20. Christine says:

    Im going through a difficult time with jealous and envious people who have made up some terrible things about me and my husband who is a successful man but also generous and kind. They have it all wrong and have got people agreeing with them but don’t even know us!! It’s so frustrating and getting me down.

  21. Eduard is right to suggest leaving the scene of the crime (workplace; friendship) when malignant envy strikes. To stay and try to “kill them with kindness” will not work, nor will ignoring/overlooking, which will only embolden them. One self-help site said that it is wise to conceal one’s light under the bushel a bit so as not to draw attention to your talents/looks/possessions/achievements/natural exhibitionism. I agree with this, even though some readers here might resent having to tone down ‘who they’ are just to avoid the wrath of others. Another good tip provided was to publicly offer up harmless shortcomings you have in order to not seem enviable to others. Best of all, if you are an empath, refuse to accept the negative attributes projected onto you with an invisible forcefield around yourself. On one occasion when someone I had just met for the first time poised her dagger eyes on me, I joyfully went about my evening without interacting with her. The result was being able to see with my own eyes how she had to re-absorb her own negative feelings because she could not dump them somewhere else.

  22. I am a victim to an envious person – my ex husband’s new wife. They met online and when she found out about me, I was the target of attacks, threats, cyber bullying, hacking, and stalking – and she was successful at aggressively getting between my daughter and me, making sure she was now the new “mommy” and I was only “someone my daughter knows”. She made every attempt to erase me from my ex’s past, and my daughters life. The strange thing is, she doesn’t have a sense of self, and once she finds out what my current interest is, she competes and becomes an “expert” in that area – it may be superfoods, then yoga, or even going into nursing. I’ve had to move, erase myself from any social media, change phone numbers, addresses, employers – and now, she is going crazy, without any knowledge of who I am or what my interests are now, she has made it clear that I will never see my daughter again. It’s sad that envious people will use innocent children for their evil impulses. I didn’t used to believe in evil, but after I met this person, I know evil is real, and it all begins with an envious heart.

  23. Envious people are the most pathetic organisms on the planet–unfortunately in modern day socialized America, most people are filled with hate and envy.

    Their lack of self-responsibility can become your burden. Walk away or attack–be like a male lion–the envious person deserves nothing; not even life.

  24. What I don’t like is. These envious ass people come into your life then all of a sudden they hate you for they’re own short comings. Get your sick crazy ass away from me!!!! I work hard on my life damn it. Who the fuck are you to hate me for it?

  25. I am currently trying to deal with my sister n law, who by nature is very loud and outgoing. Always has to be the center of attention. I, by nature have always been shy. Often times I can never get a word in edgewise, so usually just sit back and listen instead of trying to talk. A turn of events has taken us in opposite directions in life financially. Unfortunately for her things have changed, and not in a good way for her. I am constantly finding myself trying to downplay all the good things happening for the first time in my life (and I am at retirement age). I often feel bad about it when I know I shouldn’t have to. But I don’t want to rub it in, like she use to do to me. It was quite hurtful. But lately she has been saying hurtful things to me. And pointing out whatever negative things she can find about anything. It is very draining. IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE, is really becoming a difficult thing for me. I’m so afraid I might blow one day and I REALLY don’t want that to happen.

Speak Your Mind