People

Piers Morgan’s on-air tantrum teaches us a vital lesson about jealousy in the workplace

Struggling with feelings of jealousy in the workplace? Please don’t behave like Piers.

We don’t often hold Piers Morgan up as a beacon of wisdom. In fact, strike that: we never hold Piers Morgan up as a beacon of wisdom. Ever. What we do sometimes find with the Good Morning Britain host, though, is that he presents himself as a brilliant example of what not to do in any given situation.

Case in point? At the 2020 National Television Awards, Morgan failed to adopt the ‘gracious loser’ face made famous by Joey and Rachel in Friends when Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield scooped the prize for best daytime show.

As one viewer noted on Twitter at the time: “Piers Morgan’s face when This Morning was announced as the winner is TV gold. This is why we pay our licence fees #NTA2019.”

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If you assumed time heals all wounds, you’d be wrong, as this week saw Morgan remind us that he still isn’t over that NTAs loss.

Speaking from the comfort of his seat on GMB, Morgan responded to a news story which claimed he had suffered an “outrageous outburst” following This Morning’s win at the awards do.

“No one, no one admires them for winning 10 NTAs more than me,” he said, seemingly about to make amends. Then, without warning, he suddenly pitched his voice as high as possible in a cruel impression of Willoughby.

“Oh me?” he asked, as Willoughby. “Us? Little old us? Did our agent win it for us again? Is it the same agent as Ant and Dec? Did they win it again? How are they doing it, Phil?”

Then, feeding into those unfounded rumours that all is not well between Schofield and Ruth Langsford behind the scenes at This Morning, Morgan (as Willoughby) added: “We’re one big happy family. Are we… Ruth? Awks.”

In that moment, Morgan made one thing abundantly clear: he is jealous of Willoughby and Schofield’s success. In fact, he is suffering from a particular type of jealousy, one which psychologists refer to as “hostile envy”.

Hostile envy, as defined by Psychology Today, sees other person’s success result in you wanting them to fail. “You enjoy hearing about successful people getting divorced, arrested, or even having accidents,” the definition goes on to explain. “[And] schadenfreude is tempting, because if the other person fails after succeeding we feel better knowing we both have ‘lost’.”

The big problem with this attitude? Well, when you obsess about others’ accomplishments , it eclipses your own abilities and stifles your forward progression. Worse still, if you act on your jealousies (as Morgan has done in a very public fashion), you wind up portraying yourself as petty and self-centered.

Former C-suite corporate executive and entrepreneur Glenn Llopis has written about how envy prevents us from connecting with others professionally in Forbes, saying: “We can’t build respect and trust for one another – and therefore lift each other – on a foundation of envy.

“How can you build a network when envy stands in the way?”

So what should we do when we, like Morgan, find ourselves bogged down by comparison culture in the workplace?

Holly Willoughby
Piers Morgan mimicked Holly Willoughby due to feelings of “hostile envy”

Stop comparing yourself to others

As leadership expert Sheri Staak writes for LinkedIn, we should aim to keep our goals internally focused. “If you constantly gauge your happiness or measure your success by comparing it to those around you, you’ll always be disappointed,” she says.

Focus on beating last month’s production target, or some such previous benchmark, rather than what everyone else is doing. Because, as Stylist’s recent report on ’comparison culture’ found, the biggest culprit to a healthy sense of self is comparing our lives with others. 

Remember: the only person’s story that really deserves the bulk of our attention is our own.

BUT… do learn from the success of your colleagues

Ask yourself this: how can you use the other person’s achievement as motivation for yourself? What can you learn from their actions? And what do you need to do differently to be recognised and rewarded in the future?

In Morgan’s case, though, perhaps it’s more a case of looking at what Schofield and Willoughby don’t do (namely, troll everyone from their This Morning sofa) and following their good example on his own chat show? Just a thought. 

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Think about your own influence

“Why envy someone else’s career aspirations when success is now measured by your influence?” asks Llopis. “Think about the influence you can share with others – rather than the barriers to advancement envy creates when networking.”

Essentially, don’t shut yourself off from those you view as ‘rivals’ at work. Instead, share your learnings with them, and vice versa.

Be supportive and respectful

“Choose to be happy and supportive when others, especially co-workers and fellow team members, receive accolades or accomplish great things,” advises Staak. “Instead of being envious, be gracious and genuine about sharing in their success… [because] taking the high road will help you feel better about yourself.”

If you, like Morgan, find yourself unable to follow this path of positive energy, then remember your grandma’s advice: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all (unless it’s during a constructive conversation with your manager/an HR representative). If you’re constantly badmouthing your more successful colleagues, it will only ever reflect badly on you.

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Take action

High Performing Teams consultant and coach Shawn Kent Hayashi says you should ask yourself “what changes can I make?” when you’re envious of a coworker.

Writing in The Muse, Hayashi explains: “Start with small steps like volunteering for different kinds of projects, speaking up when you have ideas, or signing up for a class to build out a new skill. It may be that you feel a bigger step is necessary. If you realise that every leader at your organisation has an MBA, look into local programs, and see if your company has any resources for tuition reimbursement.

“Taking any step toward your desired goal, whether it’s a baby step or a giant one, will move you out of envy and into a more positive mindset. If you stop dwelling and start doing, your focus and drive will return, and so will your more rational, sociable self.”

To find out more about comparison culture, and the impact it can have on our self-esteem, read Stylist’s investigation here.

Images: Getty

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