How to Handle an Overly Competitive Person

Try these easy suggestions to maintain a level playing field with competitors.

Posted Oct 31, 2020

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Some people we interact with regularly thrive on competition. That’s great for those who have a similar competitive streak. But what should you do if you are turned off by competition? The following suggestions can help you clearly communicate your needs to those who may not get the “I’m not competing” message.

Why Compete?

Competitive people push us to consistently perform with excellence. In the workplace, competitive people hold themselves and others accountable for completing deliverables with quality. Healthy competition can create a stronger team that is more productive.

When Competing Is Unproductive

But competitive people can make the workplace uncomfortable, especially if every discussion or assignment is about who does something better or faster. Competitive people can also bruise the egos of other team members by constantly keeping score—and reminding others of it.

A competitive person may focus his efforts more on winning than on doing what is right for the team or company.

Here’s how to handle competitive people so that you maintain your reputation and your sanity.

How to Handle a Competitive Boss

Remember that your employer got to the “boss” level by being competitive and assertive. Still, you can manage your manager and share how you need to be treated in order to be most successful at work. Say something like, “In order for me to be most productive, I need to feel that we are on the same team instead of competing with one another.”

How to Handle a Competitive Employee

Remember that you set the parameters for the relationship. Share that healthy competition is fine, but that you work best when the team is collaborative and unified. Also, remind the employee that you have her best interest at heart, and that you always reward employees who demonstrate a strong work ethic and a kind demeanor.

How to Handle a Competitive Business Partner

A business partnership is built on trust. Be clear and direct. Say something like, “I feel like you are always competing with me. I am most productive when I feel that we are working as a unified team to accomplish our goals.”

How to Handle a Competitive Friend

Be clear and direct. Say something like, “I’m not comfortable sharing that contact with you because I think that it may negatively impact our friendship.”

How to Handle a Competitive Romantic Partner

Don’t let work interfere with your personal relationship. Say, “It makes me feel uncomfortable when you make work a competition. I don’t want that competition to bleed into our romantic relationship.”

Tip: Make sure that your message is received. If needed, follow-up with an emailed recap of your dialogue to confirm that you are on the same page.

Copyright© 2020 Amy Cooper Hakim