5 Ways To Deal With Overly Competitive Co-Workers

dealing with competitive co-workersA competitive spirit has its place in the office. It can be a positive force that pushes you to do your best work, thereby strengthening your company and increasing your job security and potential rewards.

Some people, however, become possessed with the competitive spirit. They begin to view work as a zero-sum game and coworkers as obstacles to their advancement. At this point, when a coworker is willing to step on your head to reach his goals, competition becomes negative.

There isn't much you can do to change the behavior of hyper-competitive coworkers. But, you can take steps to neutralize them and protect yourself.

1. Maintain Focus

Don't let an overly competitive coworker draw your attention away from your job. Focus on doing solid work and continuously improving – not on besting a particular colleague. Simply put: Don't compete – except against yourself. Use your past performance to set future goals and work towards those results. You're more likely to succeed if you focus on the positive goal of continual self-improvement, rather than the negative goal of outdoing someone else.

2. Cultivate Relationships

Work to build and maintain strong, professional relationships with other colleagues. Again, don't focus on the overly competitive coworker. Instead, put energy into gaining respect in the workplace and becoming a well-regarded and valuable member of the team overall: Deliver on commitments; praise others; accept constructive criticism; collaborate well; and be a positive presence. Work toward virtuous goals and leave the negativity of the hyper-competitive coworker behind.

3. Convert

Try to get an overly competitive coworker to start viewing you more as a collaborator than a rival. When the coworker in question does something well, casually recognize it during a meeting with a quick compliment. Ask for his advice on a project you're working on – and if he provides a useful suggestion give him credit when appropriate. If you try these methods, however, and he isn't receptive, just leave it alone. Maybe he's just too far gone into his competitiveness.

4. Defend Yourself

Sometimes taking steps, such as those mentioned above, to neutralize an overly competitive coworker just aren't enough. Blatant attacks against you or your work – and attempts to steal ideas and credit from you – must be answered. Before you go to the boss, however, be sure that the violation is serious enough to warrant such action. You don't want to be a tattletale. And when you do talk to your boss, keep it professional, be specific and be able to support your position. Don't get personal; don't whine; and don't gripe.

5. Evaluate Culture

Take a look around your workplace. How many of your colleagues would you describe as overly competitive? If the number is high, there may be bigger forces at work. An abundance of hyper-competitive coworkers could be an indication that there is a workplace culture - either encouraged or ignored by those in charge - that creates and fosters that behavior. If that's the case, and you are unhappy with the situation, it may be time to think about looking for a new job with a company that has a culture more appealing to you.

Next: Your Co-Worker Dresses Like A Slob. Should You Say Something?

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I have a problem with my co-worker. He is 20 years older then me and we work on same position. Reason he is so aggressive and hyper-active is that he never had a sense of security before in his life as this is his first long term job. He is trying to do everything himself and all the team fun is gone. No team work at all from his side. I tried to talk to him before to split tasks appropriately and fairly, told him that he is out-phasing other people in the team, he didn't care. He keeps continue work like i didn't even talk to him. I don't know what to do and he is the reason I would quite this job.

February 11 2014 at 5:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Annette Hammond

I worked with a very competitive co-worker once.One day i told her she was "F'n B****",she just laughed and said to me"I am what I am".

January 16 2012 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Lewis

Competition--pitting coworkers against each other to achieve certain metrics in order retain positions--is the worst sort of business practice. It encourages cut-throat activity, back-stabbing and battles over client sales, causing burnout and employee churn. Is it any wonder that so many workplaces today are so stressful?

January 16 2012 at 5:37 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Obama Debt: $4.6 Trillion in 2.5 years
Bush Debt: $4.5 Trillion in 8 years

January 16 2012 at 3:45 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to leewrdy's comment

What does Bush's mess have to do with the article?

January 16 2012 at 4:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'm tired of you posting this on every article, relevant or not. But maybe it is relevant -- I'll bet you're one of those coworkers who contributes nothing to the productivity of the company, just gripes about the past and present.

January 16 2012 at 6:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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