Professional Jealousy: Not Professional at All

Have you ever been a victim of professional jealousy? Even worse, have you been one to perpetuate it? I personally can’t think of any motivation to be so jealous of a fellow massage therapist that I would do something to try and sabotage their business, or repeat rumors or outright untruths about someone in the hope of ruining his/her reputation. And yet, I hear about this every day.

Someone wrote me recently that some current students from the massage school that she had attended had passed along to her that their teacher was holding her out as an example of a terrible massage therapist and business failure–actually calling her name in class. That teacher needs to be fired in my opinion. Even taking into account that there might be any truth in what she was saying, which I didn’t believe, teaching a class full of impressionable students that kind of nasty behavior is just unacceptable.

I experienced something similar at a business meeting recently. Myself and several other people were present at a meeting of local professionals and a new director was presiding over the group for the first time. I had never met the man and he didn’t know a thing about me. I asked him the question if membership had fallen off some due to the recession, and he replied to me, “No, most people left because they hated _____ (the former director).” I was shocked beyond belief and informed him that the former director had never been anything other than nice and helpful to me, and that I had never seen him be less than that to anyone else. Again, bottom line–doesn’t matter if it was true, it was very unprofessional of him to say that in front of the group, especially considering he was brand new and not even acquainted with most of the people there.

A few weeks ago I heard from a massage therapist who had seen a male therapist as a client.  She made it clear that he had absolutely done nothing wrong, but she said she just got a “vibe” off him. I questioned her about the things he had said and any behavior that took place, and nothing at all had happened…but she wanted to know if she could warn other people about him! I repeat, the man hadn’t said or done anything…she was just projecting that he might do something in the future! Why would you try to ruin someone’s career by spreading that kind of tale? After doing a little more investigation, I found that he had a very successful practice that was not far from her office, while she was having trouble getting hers off the ground.

I’ve known of therapists who opened up a business in close proximity to another MT who was already established, and started advertising their prices at half of what the established therapist charges in an attempt to steal clients.

I’ve heard from therapists who say they won’t refer out to anyone else–even someone who has a different skill set or modality than they do, even when the client is seeking something–and they justify that by saying “No one is as good as I am.” I also see a lot of so-called “medical” massage therapists who act as if they are superior to the therapist who does Swedish massage and who talk about those therapists on the discussion boards as if the Swedish practitioners are the peans and they are the Queen of Massage…go ahead and believe that. You’re making me laugh.

And while I’m on a roll, I’ll just go ahead and mention Massage Envy. I hear therapists criticize them all the time for their low prices–and in reality, their therapists get paid as well as many MTs I hear from who work for chiropractors and in spas, judging from the mail I get and social networks I’m on–and I have also heard many derogatory comments about their massage, as if anyone who works there couldn’t possibly be giving a good massage because they work for Massage Envy, and that is just plain wrong.

Slandering fellow therapists isn’t going to get you any success. Charging half-price isn’t, either. Oh, it may suit you for a while, but eventually, you’ll come to realize that people get what they pay for and that you’ll become resentful of doing the same work for half the money.

Folks, there are enough aching bodies and stressed-out people to go around. Professional jealousy is ugly. It is mean-spirited, and it is about as unprofessional as you can get. If you’re confident in your own abilities, then you don’t need to be jealous of anyone else.

19 Replies to “Professional Jealousy: Not Professional at All”

  1. Laura,
    I agree (this time lol)
    Years ago when I opened a massage school – I received several calls from local MT’s that I was going to put them out of business. Actually, I enhanced their business and they grew because I educated the public too!

    I believe there is enough to go around for all of us!

    As for Massage Envy, I believe too, they are providing jobs for those that might not be able to start their own business. I know places that pay WORSE than they do. In these times, if someone has a facility that can provide you work , why would you complain. If you don’t like the way they do business – do it yourself ( you will soon find out the challenges and expenses)

    I can understand an Intro special (senior discounts) to bring in new clients when marketing your place , but to be cut throat won’t work. Bad karma.

    I am moving into a space right now across from some massage therapists. We are already talking about how we can “support” each other. It takes a village y’know 😉

    The thing that erks me is so many LMT’s proclaim to be spiritual and they say and do more things “unspiritual” ! Yep, I spoke out! 😉
    Slandering is not spiritual. Back stabbing is not spiritual! Cursing on FB? C’mon ?! Do you really think that is professional representation!

    Refer out! ABSOLUTELY! We can’t begin to assume we can do it all. Guess what? Others will refer to you as well. It’s called community support and respecting the skills of others. Know your limits and boundaries. That is professional!

    Ok – on a roll Laura ? lol – ya got me going – Thanks!

  2. Hi Laura,
    Another great article as usual! I’ve had another massage therapist get on my business page on FB and write: “Although Rajam is good, you should come see me!” Unbelievable!

    I like your point about Massage Envy, I think that franchise is a great idea both for the client who can’t afford my fees and for the therapist who needs work experience and/or a steady paycheck.

    I’ve also taught at a massage school here in San Diego some years ago and in my business class, I thought it would be neat if they visited various local massage practices to see how they are set up. I called around the offices that were within a radius of the school and every one I called said “No”! One reasoning was, “Oh, you’re from ____ school? Well, I was going to hire a graduate from that school last year and the applicant didn’t know anything about licensing laws. You better make sure to teach them about that.” To be quite honest, I was shocked beyond belief and very disappointed. (Now upon reflection, I could have made of list of businesses for them to check out on their own time and then we could have class discussion later).

    It goes beyond professional courtesy and it really shows how people treat others on a personal level. There are professionals I haven’t agreed with, but I don’t say that to my clients. And, my clients do appreciate that I can refer them to someone who does similar work when I’m out of town. It’s my attitude that if they end up liking the other therapist better, it’s not a worry because I’m in service to help folks, not impede their personal journeys.

    Thanks for another good read, Laura!

  3. Great article, Laura. Though I’ll bet you already know what I’m going to say, I’m gonna say it anyway.

    COOPERATIVE COMPETITION, ya’ll! There is enough to go around. Help each other succeed and prop each other up however you can so we can all move forward and prosper as a profession.

    Wonder what would happen if the therapist who questioned the “vibe” about her male therapist colleague/client actually reached out to him to help him improve his communication skills instead of considering slandering him? Could she help him become aware of a potentially damaging habit or way of speaking (or whatever gave her the weird vibes) to help him become a success?

    What if that school director invited the “failure” of a therapist to attend a free marketing class ? Become her mentor? Perhaps just give her a chance to share her story about her business and become a resource for helping her succeed.

    Though I am not perfect, I have always strived to help others in our profession as well as the spa industry – to help them connect the dots, improve themselves or find the resources to become successful. I applaud you, Laura, for challenging your readers to think about the impact we all have on each other and how we can be more mindful or intentional about helping one another for the betterment of all.

  4. I have been retired from Massage Therapy for about 5 years. I have never heard of the things you state in this blog. Just the opposite. I received my training in Washington State, at Spectrum School of Massage. We were all supportive of each other, even referring people back and forth, for different reasons. Realizing the strengths of each person, and attempting to taylor the therapist to the clients needs.

    It is too bad for the profession that people are acting with such behaviour.
    I am grateful that I did not have those kinds of experiences, rather one of assisting each other and clients to feel better, and perhaps let go of all the behaviours mentioned.

    Get lots of massage from different people, do Yoga, and meditation and get lots of outdoor exercise, perhaps some of the crap will fall away.

  5. Fantastic blog! Instead of picking each other apart we should reach out for support. I work in a city of aprox. 80,000 people. There are two massage schools. I can only see “so” many people in one week. I think there are plenty of clients around for all of us to be successful with out acting immaturely. I have TWO therapist colleagues that I can talk to. TWO out of 30 or 40 or even more if you count the ones not practicing. And there is a lot of “I wouldn’t go there” talk. Silly. I am not afraid to refer. I’d rather work together to educate the public so we can ALL have full appointment books.

  6. Excellent blog, Laura. It is articulate, to-the-point, and quite timely. I appreciate the content. It serves as an important reminder to be mindfully aware of the power of the spoken word.

  7. I’m grappling with this issue now, in the massage clinic where I work part-time. The other LMP employee is doing weird stuff to fill up her schedule and leave mine empty. It’s so unprofessional, and this is the second clinic in a row where this kind of thing has happened to me. I have totally lost all faith in work situations, right now I’m wondering if everywhere I go, I’ll face this kind of situation. Me? I think there’s enough work for all of us to get carpal tunnel syndrome, but apparently other LMPs think it’s a zero-sum game. I’m so sick of it. I wish the clients would call the boss and complain about her behavior (slandering a coworker)…and why the heck do they listen to her? I’m soooo tired of Evil always winning, and the bosses never booting the unprofessional one out the door.

  8. Great post. I completely agree. We don’t need that kind of petty competition in massage. There is more than enough work for everyone. Don’t people realize that all of that negative emotion manifests itself in there practice. I totally believe in karma.

  9. I so enjoy reading your articles, Laura. You are wise beyond your years and have a wonderful way of getting to the meat of the matter. Over my 13 years as a LMT I’ve seen truly professional therapists alongside those that are simply counting how many clients they work on each week as if it we are keeping score of who is winning. I think it’s a fact of life in our industry that will never go away. Leaving the “I did ## massages last week” ego out of the game might only come as we gain experience in our profession.

    For me, it’s always been the quality of the massages I provide and most of all, client choice. I believe in helping a client find the right therapist for their needs and never feeling like they shouldn’t “try someone else”. It actually helped my therapist/client relationship if I recommended another therapist whose skills better matched the client’s needs. And… I never refer to another therapist unless I’ve received a session form them! I can’t say it didn’t hurt some when I’d steer a longtime client to a different LMT for a type of massage that I wasn’t able to provide only to see them choose that LMT’s massage over mine later on. I honestly would remind myself of my own rule to honoring client choice! But, there have been multiple times when I felt joy as the client would begin to book sessions from both of us! The true reward was knowing I’d helped a client learn that what their body needed today wasn’t the same as what it needed two weeks ago. And, utilizing multiple therapists to care for them was a smart move.

    As always, thank you Laura for keeping lines of professional communication and sharing open!

  10. Thank you for a very timely and well written article. I haven’t had people badmouth me but have had people snitch clients when they can, at one place where I work. At this place the therapists pick up messages and do all the booking to save costs. At the other place, a franchise, there is always a receptionist on duty, as well as online booking for clients to access themselves. I actually make more at this place and see more clients; due to more than one factor, but I have to count fairness up there at the top.

  11. I am blessed that at my office the staff members all support each other, refer to each other, and there is a complete lack of any bad behavior.

    I heard from one person that she was working in a shared office with another therapist and she was wondering why the other person stayed booked up and she was just sitting there….and then she discovered that the therapist had forwarded the office phone number to her own cell phone. That kind of thing is just petty and ridiculous. Needless to say she left and went elsewhere. I would have felt compelled to give her a little Southern redneck whoop-ass before I left!

  12. Excellent blog. I have experienced this type of professional jealousy at spas in my area. I applied for a job and did two 80 min. massages on the manager and the lead MT. They both liked my work, hired me and asked me to call to schedule more training. Well, after four calls to the lead MT that weren’t returned, I called the manager. She defended the therapist and did nothing to foster communication or act with any integrity. So, I quit. I imagine that the MT was worried about her place on top of the heap and just flat ignored me. I’ve decided that this isn’t the place for a male massage therapist.

  13. Thank you Laura for a great article. I have always had a partner establishing my practice. I have been a fulltime LMT for 28 yrs. Always my feeling about getting started was that we were here to serve and take pain away. This compassion and seeing our work as a vocation made jealousy impossible. Good karma is simply a cause and effect of your actions. It is true! Act nobly, learn compassion training and nothing but great relationships will occur that foster loyal clients who act as members of their own wellness team. This is the kind of practice you want.
    Now, I have two of my students in practice with me. No question that we all support each other. We talk to each other about trainings, back up for our vacations and “tag team” sessions
    When we work on folks together ( two-person Myofascial release).l Now, we have a great suite of offices and we couldn’t afford this if we weren’t partnered-up. Be supportive and positive, and it will be returned to you with interest…this is the best way to create your own good fortune.

  14. Thank you for this blog! I have always believed there are enough clients to go around and actually keep a list of therapist I have enjoyed in my office, encouraging clients to experience different work when their body is asking for it. I am what most people perceive to be a successful therapist. I am able to support my overhead, pay my bills and take part in several quality CEU classes every year.

    That jealousy bug has sure bit me hard a few times!

    But the difference is I see this is a good thing. Instead of lashing out I have come to realize it is a tool and an opportunity. It’s a chance to become clearer on what I want my business to look like. It’s a chance to be empowered and make changes necessary to create a practice I love.

    Being self-employed has been the best teacher I’ve ever had when it comes to taking personal responsibility, ego-wrangling and crushing self-delusions. We all have to remember that opening our eyes to the reality of our situation may not be pleasant but it’s necessary to get where we want to go.

    And anyways, like my Momma always said, every time we point a finger, we get three more pointing back at us! She really does know what she’s talking about.

  15. P.S. We should not be jealous of our colleagues’ successes – whether it’s their practice or being interviewed by the local newspaper or winning an award. We should be happy for them, congratulate them, and emulate them!

  16. Great article as usual Laura and excellant comments from all. I would just add that when jealousy of this type happens and you experience such lack of support in your work environment (Amy), move on, quickly. As you can see from this discussion, there’s lots of support out there and ethical behavior from like minded MTs who think positive and act appropriately (even if you can only get it online and have to go solo in your practice). You don’t need to suffer from this type of abuse and it’s not ususally worth it to stick around (having made an effort to first address the issue with the other MT). Best wishes!

  17. Great post. I’m a recent massage graduate and I’m nationally certified. I live in a state with no regulations and have worked at a couple spas. I live in a small town, and have never worked with anybody who was a trained therapist, just people with no education who call themselves therapists. I drove over 100 miles a day just to go to class when I went for my massage diploma, and I put in a lot of sacrifice. Both spas I’ve worked at, I’ve been under one other “Therapist.” I’ve had a couple instances where the other therapist couldn’t work on a client and had me do the massage. The client ended up wanting to rebook with me and this will anger the other therapist, and I’ve been accused of “stealing” clients. I do not believe I stole anybody if the other person is at the same spa, paying the same price, but prefers a different therapist. I am just trying to do my job right so I can afford to go back to school in the fall, but it gets really hard. The owner of the spa I work at now just told me yesterday that the other therapist feels “threatened” by me. I don’t really know what I did, but it makes sense that I never have any massages anymore since the other therapist is in charge of scheduling (she’s the manager). At least I move to a big city soon and have an interview at a place that only does massage. All their therapists have education requirements and it is a really professional atmosphere. I take my work very seriously, and I get a little sad when I have to work under someone who doesn’t understand basic anatomy, is threatened by me, and controls my schedule. Sometimes I feel like banging my head into a wall since I hate all the passive aggressiveness and attitude I receive.

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