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How to Stop Feeling Competitive With Colleagues

by Anna Windermere

Healthy competition can help you grow, but constantly being a rival to your colleagues can leave you feeling burned out and never good enough. If your compulsion to compete is causing you to feel too controlling or making co-workers uncomfortable working with you, you can shift your focus so that competition becomes a win-win for you and your colleagues.

Boost Your Self-Esteem

Insecurity can drive the need to compete with co-workers, so to stop feeling competitive with them requires you to focus on your strengths -- everything that makes you a good worker, such as skills or experience. If you view yourself as a unique entity with qualities that cannot be compared to others, it will be easier to let others have the limelight once in a while and congratulate them on their successes. Your confidence in your own abilities means you don't have to prove anything to anyone, because you know your worth to the company. Taking care of your emotional needs both in and out of the office can make you feel more secure so you need less approval.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

When you act competitive with your colleagues, they might feel like they are not being given a chance to contribute. While it's great that you want to take on more responsibilities and a heavier workload, which may be helpful to the team, think about how they might feel if your work is getting all the attention, and give them a fair chance to contribute their talents. Your competitiveness might make them feel overly territorial and in danger of losing, which creates stress for everyone. If your feeling of competitiveness stems from a colleague who is overly competitive himself, realize that he might just be looking to feel better about himself by proving himself at work, so tell yourself "there's room for everyone."

Collaborate

Finding out what you have in common with your colleagues gives you the chance to pool your resources. Collaboration allows you to appreciate and build upon each other's strengths -- and develop respect. A spirit of collaboration can help reduce feelings of competitiveness, because you can see your co-worker as an ally rather than someone who you have to beat in some kind of game. What you perceive as a strength in your colleague is something he can teach you by example -- so watch, learn and even compliment him, knowing that having him on your side can be a future resource.

See Competition Positively

Healthy competition allows everyone in the workplace to succeed at something, and it brings out the best in everyone. If you aspire to this type of competition, which promotes growth and respect, it can help you stop feeling competitive in ways that make you feel stressed and your colleagues threatened. View your rival's expertise as something that inspires you to produce your own best work. Likewise, view her weaknesses as an opportunity to improve your own skills in that area. If you have a tendency to constantly compare yourself to your colleagues, decide you will only compare yourself as a whole entity -- that is, if your co-worker is a better leader, remember that you are more detail-oriented. This way, you are competing more fairly and not just focusing on your weaknesses and her strengths.

About the Author

Anna Windermere started her writing and editing career in 1993, upon graduating from the University of Florida's esteemed journalism school with a bachelor's in journalism. Ms. Windermere, a senior-level copy editor, has appeared in mastheads of newspapers and magazines as copy chief, writer and proofreader, including "Sun-Sentinel," "Miami Herald," "City Link," "New Times," "NewBeauty," "Luxe," "Florida Alligator," "Orange & Blue," and more.

Photo Credits

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