Don’t you just love a friendly competition? You and your coworkers or friends uplifting each other and breaking boundaries!
When Jamila left a comment at a previous post (read here) stating that she would like to see a post discussing how to deal with competition at work, I knew it was about time I drafted one (because I’ve had it on my mind for some time).
That not withstanding, I wanted to start out from a positive perspective before moving forward.
If that sounds cliché, I totally get it. Most people claim to be positive when in fact they are doing the extreme opposite. But it’s a better way to look at everything that has to do with life irrespective.
And why, you ask?
It’s because personally, I can’t deal with unhealthy competition and I know you can’t either.
The honest truth is: I’m a very simple person (at least that’s what I think about myself). I grew up that way. I believe in simplicity so much that I apply it even in the workplace.
I just can’t spend precious time worrying about an overly competitive person. Like I always say, the sky is wide enough to accommodate everyone. So go ahead and fly.
The best way to manage such irrelevant competition is to work on yourself. Or better put: improve yourself!
Some people say: “you should be your competition. You are your only competition.”
While that may be a good idea, expressed genuinely, my school of thought is quite different. I believe that you should have ‘healthy competition’ and I know that this may be difficult to break down, but I’d just go about explaining further.
One principle I’ve incorporated into my life is that every other person out there should inspire me. However, I must draw the line and tread carefully even at that.
A friendly competition is somewhat good because it brings out the best in you. I mean, when you see that someone is doing something that you’d want to do; (and it’s in the same field of interest as yours), you should see it as an inspiration and possibly work on getting your act together.
You shouldn’t be envious or jealous or do something plain silly. Neither should you copy (now this relates to people doing intellectual stuff). You should try to bring out other creative ways to do the same thing!
Nothing is new under the sun.
Yes, nothing is new in my opinion.
Great people have done wonderful things in the past and others have brought out better innovations from it, no matter how little. They have been able to build on the initial idea.
And I know because there are countless times I’ve wanted to do something and then someone else did it before me. It’s because everyone is thinking. People are making use of their brains and refusing to be idle.
But what makes you stand out is how you go about carrying your ideas and what you say or do afterward. That’s outrightly so important!
All this to say: there will be competition. In life, at work, and everywhere. So the better way to handle this is to develop yourself so much that you know you shouldn’t be worried for starters.
Employers want the right skills and competencies for their organization. They want a proper balance. You, as a worker, should ensure that you are on top of your game at all times.
Depending on your career sector or profession, there may be certain skills required, but some skills can still be transferable. To ensure success at your job, it’ll be good to also complement these skills with that which you already have.
A mixture of good hard and soft skills is what every employer seeks for because the business climate is in constant flux.
So with all that said, and since you are aware that self-improvement is key, I’d share some tips that have helped me deal with extremely competitive co-workers in the past.
1. Be certain
You need to be sure that this person is really out to have some unhealthy competition.
Some individuals are just socially awkward and may give the impression of being out to destroy you at work. This person says the wrong thing at the wrong time and place.
If you are new to your workplace, you need to be certain before you come to conclusions. If you are not, try to observe further and probably chat with a few other colleagues to be certain that you are not just making flimsy assumptions.
2. Time to plan and brainstorm
If it’ll be possible for you to get your job done without involving this person, then try that out.
I know this may seem to drift away from the whole concept of teamwork but that’s not so. The idea is that you must have tried to work together, but have discovered that it’ll be a difficult task that could result in an even more problematic situation.
3. Acknowledge his/ her accomplishment
Most overly competitive people like to be praised since they may feel insecure. Or so they like to make others believe through their behavior anyway.
You’d like to be acknowledged for a job well done, wouldn’t you?
Make this person happy by telling him/ her that he/she did a great job (if true indeed)! It’s okay. It’ll only make this person trust you and see you as a friend to rely on.
But mean it!
4. Don’t avoid confrontation
In the past, I’d have told you that I hated confrontation.
But I’ll advise against that presently because avoiding confrontations in the past has left me in situations where I had a bad taste in my mouth and couldn’t sleep. As much as you can, confront your co-worker.
They say those born in October avoid confrontation. Maybe that explains it, but I’ve learned the hard way, so I don’t want you to.
You want to hear from his/ her mouth why he/she won’t let you go about your business. You want to find out if there is any common ground. You want to know if you can reach a compromise.
Emphasis on ‘compromise’ because at the end of the day, it’ll be better for you to meet half way rather than becoming enemies that both work within the same space.
You want to be on the same page.
If the situation is that this other person seems to want to do your job (in other words: deprive you of working), then a better approach would be to see how you can let him/ her work on something, while you still have other tasks to do.
I feel that it’s better for someone you think you have difficulties with to tell you that to your face. I’d rather you tell me face to face what your issue is and we work it out than carrying on with assumptions of what this other person’s motive is.
What do you think?
5. Carry on with your regular work-life
As long as you are in your best shape and not taking anything to mind, you can always go about your business like there is no jerk around you!
Have other colleagues at work you can hang out with for that positive spirit.
Your colleague at work knows this and may become unnecessarily competitive for attention from your boss or whatever. The most important thing is that you are not paranoid.
If this competitor is trying to take credit for your work and possibly sabotage you, please take precautionary measures. Use good passwords and keep your documents in a safe place.
If all fails
I really hope the situation doesn’t reach this point, but if your work environment is too toxic, consider discussing the situation with your boss. Most bosses don’t want to have this sort of discussion because, at the end of the day, it should be you trying to solve the issue first hand.
However, when having this meeting/ discussion with your boss, try to be liberal and explain the state of things in a more logical manner.
If you still can’t notice any change after some time, then it may just be that you need to try your best to work with this person without starting drama or it may be time to find a new job.
But before it gets this bad, I’ll love to hear from you. Send me an email: [email protected]. The circumstances may differ and I may be able to give a more tailored advice depending on facts gathered.
I’ll love to hear from you if you are going through this issue. I’d be happy to help.
Have you ever had to deal with a competitive coworker? How did you handle it? Please share other suggestions in the comment section as this may be of help to someone.
Feel free to visit Jamila’s blog: jamilakyari.com if you’d want to get any information related to lifestyle.
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