The above video is a simple and funny demonstration of the competition we deal with at work. Competition can come in all forms.
We compete with our co-workers for promotions, raises, and the ideal assignment. We also compete for the right to keep our job.
Ironically the word “compete” comes from the Latin competere, which means, “to seek together.” It is interesting how today that definition has changed, “to strive to outdo another for acknowledgment, a prize, supremacy, profit, etc.”
Men and women deal with competition differently. According to Luise Eichenbaum and Susie Orbach in their book, Between Women, they found that women find themselves through connections with others while men develop by distinguishing themselves from others. As a result of this conflicted way of thinking, men and women can experience unhealthy competition and negative stress in the workplace.
There are many signs of unhealthy competition. Here are a few.
- a competitive nature that doesn’t acknowledge the integrity of others
- a winning attitude that leads to foul unethical play
- a “one-upmanship” attitude
Competition can also be healthy. According to a study by Norman Triplett on the effects of competition, he found that it helps us improve to our performance. The challenge is in creating healthy competition without negative stress. The following are three ways to turn unhealthy competition to one that is healthy.
1. Begin to change the competitive focus from one of scarcity to one of abundance. A focus of abundance allows one to create opportunities to learn about one’s abilities, develop skills, and test one’s capabilities. A focus of scarcity creates stress and causes one to miss opportunities to learn.
2. Shift from being competitive to being cooperative. A competitive situation causes either party to undermine the attempts of the other to reach their goal. However, a cooperative situation promotes the mutual gain of both parties.
3. Find a way to work together with the competition. Each party can compensate for each others weaknesses and build on strengths.