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A Double-Edge Sword of Competition in the Workplace

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 better people, or secure our happiness.

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

Baltasar Gracian

Competition in the workplace can be a double-edged sword. A competitive environment can spur co-workers to continual improvement. On the other hand, workplace competitiveness can pit co-workers against one another, creating stress and defensiveness.

To neutralize a 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.

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.


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

Defend Yourself

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

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.

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

Jiddu Krishnamurti

In a healthy competitive work environment, everyone has a chance to win. Everyone is given equal opportunity and celebrates each other’s wins.

Unlike a negative competitive workplace, a healthy type of competition increases excitement, bolsters fun, and promotes higher performance. Employees are more eager to come to work and show enthusiasm towards setting goals and eventually achieving them. There are 5 effective ways to encourage healthy competition in the workplace.

Non-Monetary Rewards

Rewards inspire people to put in more effort and achieve specific goals. Cash-based incentives have a higher chance of garnering inner conflict and competition. People are more likely to feel jealous or threatened by a team member who got some form of monetary reward.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Recognition from one’s peers is a considerable factor affecting the type of competition in the workplace. Recognize your employees publicly. Say thank you even for a small job done well. Implement a peer recognition software that’ll allow colleagues to recognize each other on the go. Effective collaboration, greater outcomes, amazing team support. These are only a few examples of the positive changes that it will surely bring.

Team-Based Activities

A great way to inspire healthy competition in the workplace is by holding team-based activities. Team-based activities generate excitement that can allow employees to indulge in a fun challenge. The beauty behind such activities is that such internal competition is not likely to garner resentment or jealousy. It is designed to bring people together and show how a positive sense of competition can help us think more creatively. It also helps establish innovative ideas, the power of teamwork, and the ability to win by accepting help from others.

Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorming sessions are great stabilizers because it genuinely brings everyone down to one level- their ideas. No matter their job title or department, the value is given to the ideas that someone is able to outline.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion play a huge role in deciding whether the work environment promotes a healthy or harmful competitive culture. The main objective of a healthy competitive work environment is to give everyone an equal chance to succeed. Without any inclusion measures, that itself will be futile. Even more so, if there are indications of any workplace discrimination.

Learning to create the right kind of competition means everything when it comes to maintaining a productive and friendly office atmosphere. Competition in the workplace is often inevitable. And, while some leaders view competition as a technique to maximize production, the truth is that it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety