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How to Cope with Competitive People

by Judy Kilpatrick

Understand what makes the competitive person tick, and you can turn competition into a win-win situation. Competition leads to improvements, when used positively. But sometimes competition creates stress and tension. When you are faced with a competitive co-worker, friend or relative, understanding the dynamics of this personality type can go a long way toward helping you cope.

Point out a competitive person's strengths with sincere compliments to create a positive mindset for you both before further interactions. Competitive people are sometimes called alpha types, the type with a lot of drive and motivation and desire to succeed -- all positive qualities. The downside of the alpha can be the desire to be right and to win at all costs. When you are faced with the challenging side of an alpha, understanding how the alpha thinks can help you turn a potentially hurtful or stressful situation into a win-win situation for you both. Alphas thrive on encouragement.

Identify the driving forces of a competitive person to help you cope with challenging personality characteristics. Competitive alphas come in a variety of styles, according to "Dealing with Those Alpha Types (and Winning)" written by Claudia H. Deutsch in The New York Times. Identifying alphas as either visionaries, commanders, strategists or executives gives you clues on how to approach a competitive person. For instance, visionaries respond to pictures of future success and achievement, commanders are swayed by emotional appeals, strategists like data and analysis, and executors like to know how things work together.

Don't take a competitive person's behavior personally. Do what you can to work with the person, cooperating whenever possible, advises Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. in "How to Keep Your Cool with Competitive People" on Psychology Today. Don't be afraid to mention your own strengths or accomplishments. Competitive people admire these qualities and have increased respect for you when they are aware of your abilities and achievements. Keep the relationship with a competitive person in perspective so you can keep your cool and cope without having your own negative characteristics triggered.

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About the Author

For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.

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