How to Use Workplace Competition to Your Career Advantage

Let’s be honest, ladies and gentlemen: the workplace is not a heavenly environment full of angelic hosts eagerly anticipating for our personal career success. In any case, we’ve all found ourselves caught up in workplace competition at some point and things aren’t always pretty…

Shrouded in mystery

Workplace competition is usually shrouded in mystery. And that’s because it can take very peculiar forms:

  • For instance, we’re all used to fake smiles with ulterior motives in the workplace.
  • Then we’ve got those ‘silent criminals’ that are pretty good at stabbing fellow workmates in the back without leaving a trace.
  • Plus, we can’t forget to mention those snitches that are always willing to spill the beans to the boss.
  • Last but certainly not least, we’ve got those with tough ambition that don’t take competition kindly, especially if you are the main competition.
  • Of course, I’m just scratching the surface, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got many other examples to add on to this list...

Competition brings out the best in products, but…

Competition tends to bring out the worst in people, especially when there is no monitoring authority to ensure fair play:

  • Case in point: if your work environment has minimum supervision and plenty of ‘rogue’ employees, then it means that you’re likely to fall victim to unfair competition.
  • Maybe the perpetrator thinks that you’re on a moral high horse and thus you deserve punishment for your ‘moral arrogance’.
  • In fact, psychologists have found that there are people who are hardwired to be evil – it’s just their nature.
  • They derive pleasure in cheating their way to success through collateral damage and they’re pretty much unapologetic about it…

Balancing the scales

Of course, if you happen to be a victim of such a dilemma, then you might be tempted to balance the scales. You might even decide to play dirty to show your opponent that you’re not some defenseless naïve character. But you can’t be sure what your opponent really wants:

  • Maybe their ultimate desire is to see you miserable and downtrodden.
  • You might even be surprised to find that the job promotion they’ve been fighting for doesn’t give them the satisfaction they need unless you’re there to witness their glory with envy and intolerance.
  • After all, to them, competition might simply be about rubbing the coveted prize in their opponents’ faces.

So, really…

How does one use workplace competition to their advantage? 

From what we’ve discussed above, it’s quite clear that you don’t want to be involved in such childish competition since you might be dealing with an immature character after all. This means that you want to be the mature one in the scuffle. And the only way you can demonstrate this is by using the stones thrown at you to your career advantage. And it’s pretty much simple, really…

1. Let the opponent have the candy

When an adult fights with a kid over candy, it doesn’t look good AT ALL. So, trust me when I tell you that you might be losing more than you’re set to gain from winning that fight:

  • Maybe your fellow workmates have this sense of respectful admiration about you.
  • But then, a recent scuffle with a rogue employee has made you look bad.
  • If you back off from an ugly fight like the mature and responsible adult you are, then I don’t have to emphasize how good that will make you look.

And just when you thought you were about to lose the fight…

2. Let the opponent make mistakes

A child may never admit their fault unless they’re fully convinced through experience that they were wrong:

  • So, let’s say that a promotion was the bone of contention, and maybe you were the best person for the job.
  • But the rogue employee just wants the candy and so, you gave it to them.
  • If they were not the right person for the job, then they won’t hide their flaws for long.
  • At some point, the boss will soon realize that there is someone better suited for the job.
  • But, what if the boss and the employee are both rogue? Does it mean that you’ve lost the fight?

Not just yet…

3. Let the opponent come to you for help

The Bible speaks of loving your enemies, blessing those who curse you, and doing good to those who hate you:

  • This was not meant for wussies because not everyone can win the favor of an enemy.
  • Plus, let’s face it: we live in a world where enemies can turn out to be the best of acquaintances thanks to mutual respect.
  • Therefore, use that mutual respect to your advantage by helping your nemesis look good WITHOUT TAKING CREDIT.
  • If they’re on the wrong path, show them the way. But don’t brag about it.
  • They might not like you, but they’ll soon realize without a shadow of doubt that you’re a very mature and honorable character. A character that keeps their word even when they’re fighting a losing battle. 
  • In any case, wouldn’t it be awesome if your enemy recommends you for the next promotion?
  • Plus, let’s face it: once they stop seeing you as competition, then your career ascent might be smoother than you could possibly imagine.

See also: How to Know Your Coworker, Relative or Friend is Jealous of You

It is a competitive world and, as such, the majority is used to fighting their way to the top. Unfortunately, when they get to the top, they have already stepped on too many toes in the process and we don’t want that. But what if you could win the fight and the favor of your enemies, all at the same time? Wouldn’t that be great? As Lao Tzu once said, ’To get everything, you must give up everything…’




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