FEW people would want to admit that they are jealous of a co-worker, yet the green-eyed monster lurks in many workplaces.

Just getting a pat on the back from the boss can ignite feelings of jealousy among other employees, let alone a promotion or a pay rise.

Studies have shown that it is not just success that triggers jealousy. Women can be jealous of more attractive female staff members and men and women alike can be jealous of sociable co-workers.

"It's amazing just how easily some people can get credit for their work when they really don't know what they are doing," says an executive in a small firm here.

"I just tell myself that it's normal to be jealous. I am human. And I try not to let it drag on."

Jealousy is indeed common. When it strikes, tell yourself it's okay to feel this way and let go of the emotion. One trick is to take a step back and not dwell on whatever is making you upset.

Rein in those jealous feelings so that you do not act on them. It may be okay to feel jealous but it's a different thing when it comes to jealous behaviour.

Try not to compare yourself with others all the time. If you constantly do so, you are bound to be unhappy.

You will wonder why this or that co-worker is getting a much better appraisal than you.

"In a sales team, some may ask, 'Why is he getting the easy sales lead while I get the difficult ones?'" says Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of corporate services at The GMP Group.

Mr Tan Swee Heng, a learning coach from training firm LZ Leadership & Interaction, says that in his coaching experiences, a key leadership challenge of managers is how to motivate the whole team and at the same time, remove or eradicate toxic behaviours such as jealousy.

Within a team, some employees may compare and be jealous of their co-workers.

"I believe some managers may, unconsciously, be a big contributor to creating and fanning such negative feelings," says Mr Tan.

He may assign the more important work to one person, for instance, and take his views more seriously than that of other team members. Other co-workers may then feel jealous as they perceive these as indicators of the boss playing favourites, says Mr Tan.

"But is it true that the boss is unfair? In reality, most managers feel justified because that person is a high performer who can be trusted with bigger projects and deserves more recognition than the rest," he says.

The key is to understand whether the issue is personal or not, says Mr Goh.

"It may be a case where the manager is dating a staff member and favouring him or her. If this is the case, you can approach HR," he says.

"If the case is not personal, you really have to ask yourself what is it that you have done wrong. Ask the manager what else you can do to get a better appraisal or a promotion."

Sometimes, it's a case of comparing apples with oranges.

"Some people think: I am very good because I am already doing this and that. But he may not have a full picture of what others are doing," says Mr Goh.

And life is not always fair so there's no point in comparing ourselves with others all the time - unless it spurs you to do more to improve yourself.

"Then, it's a good thing. It'll be a matter of time before people recognise your contributions," says Mr Goh.

"Be mindful that each person is unique. We have different talents and strengths and different backgrounds. So it does not make sense to compare ourselves with anyone else," says Dr Elizabeth Nair, principal psychologist at Work and Health Psychologists.

"Striving for excellence is where we use ourselves as a yardstick and aim to be the best we can."

Ultimately, we all have a choice. Says Mr Goh: "You are the one deciding whether to let jealousy affect you or not."