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The Double-Edge Sword: A Competitive Workplace

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Competition in the workplace is a brain game that will only make life more challenging.

From the time we are small, we learn to compare ourselves to others.

It seems competition is everywhere we look. It’s human nature for us to compare ourselves to others, but it doesn’t improve the status, make us a better person, or secure our happiness.

“Never compete with someone who has nothing to lose.”

Baltasar Gracian

Competition in the workplace especially leads to stress for everyone involved – your manager, your co-worker, and of course, you. Not all workplace comparison is bad. To be clear, it’s an opportunity to learn from them. Looking at coworkers’ performances can be beneficial, too often it becomes harmful. It is better to avoid comparing yourself to others in the workplace and instead focus on yourself and your strengths, development, and performance to be successful.

Leaders are responsible to foster a healthy environment that encourages growth among many workers and personality types. Some leaders view competition as a technique to maximize productivity, but it causes unnecessary stress and anxiety turning the workplace into a real-life version of The Hunger Games, fighting for survival. To neutralize competitive spirit in the workplace starts with yourself.

Maintain Focus

Don’t let a competitive colleague draw your attention away from your job. It is better to focus on a positive goal rather than on outdoing someone else.

“Insecure people only eclipse your sun because they’re jealous of your daylight and tired of their dark, starless nights.”

Shannon L. Alder

Cultivate Relationship

Maintain a strong professional relationship with your colleagues. Building a meaningful relationship within the workplace to form a solid foundation to be successful.

“The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above effort.”

Colin Powell


Start viewing your competitive coworker as a collaborator rather than a rival.

“A merchant who approaches business with the idea of serving the public well has nothing to fear from the competition.”

James Cash Penney

Defend Yourself

Neutralizing an overly competitive colleague are just aren’t enough. A violation should be enough to justify such action. Keep it professional and not personal, specific and able to support your position.

Don’t knock your competitors. By boosting others you will boost yourself. A little competition is a good thing and severe competition is a blessing. Thank God for competition

Jacob Kindleberger, Mill Owner

Evaluate Culture

Take a look around in your work environment. A hyper-competitive coworker could be an indication that there is a workplace culture that creates and fosters that behavior.

The idea of competition, particularly in a creative atmosphere, is always there; if you don’t acknowledge that, you are doing yourself and the process a disservice.”

Jake Gyllenhaal

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A workplace with a sense of fear derails your work environment where competition is present. A competitive workplace tends to involve a charged atmosphere that will likely grow tense and even hostile.

Competition is what challenges us to bring out the best of us.

Healthy competition can inspire employees to become productive and accomplish better work. However, when the competition is unhealthy, the work environment becomes stressful. Here are the following on how to handle workplace competition.

Look in the Mirror

Consider yourself, before assuming a colleague is being a competitor. Employees should take a moment to evaluate their own performance before blaming a coworker for underperformance.

Assess the Workload and Division of Task

Leaders should distribute a fair share of tasks, with balanced divisions or tasks, employees have the opportunity to showcase their talents.

Collaborate on Shared Goals

The more people collaborate, the more significant their working relationships become and teams are able to share and discuss new ideas, leading to more successful results.

Show your Appreciation

As a leader giving positive feedback to your employees most likely foster employee’s professional development, and increase employee engagement.

Maintain a High Quality of work at all times

If competition is present in the workplace, use it as an opportunity to accomplish your task or responsibilities, leading to successful results.

Protect yourself and your Information

Unhealthy competitions can turn nasty and can involve a whole range of office politics. Protect your devices as well as your documents to avoid someone to sabotage or steal your work and claiming it as their own.

Talk to your Boss

Keep it professional, and back -up your claims with documented facts.

“Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Competition in the workplace can be a double-edged sword. When competition pushes us, it allows us to learn more about our strengths and weaknesses. A bit of competition can be a good thing.


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