There are many different personality types in the workplace that we have to learn to deal with. The overly competitive coworker is one of the worst. This person takes friendly competition to a whole other level. They may take credit for your work, make snide comments about you and become overbearing with their need to be the best of the best. Their actions may be hiding their insecurities, their need to be accepted or to feel that they are doing well. Insecurities aside, their actions create a negative work environment and may poorly affect your well-being.
Don’t join in on their unhealthy competition. Focus on improving yourself. Focus on your own goals and make sure the only person you’re competing with is yourself. If you start comparing yourself to others you’ll never feel accomplished. Continuous self-improvement is better than competing to do better than someone else. Joining in on their competition also sets you up for more jabs and negative comments from this overly competitive person that will only hinder your own self-improvement.
Don’t take on more work than you can handle just because the overly competitive coworker is as well. Take on work that you know you can accomplish with your skills. If your overly competitive coworker is taking credit for the work you did, take precautions to keep your work safe. Make sure your computer is password protected and keep records of your accomplishments safe as well. Confront the person face to face before going to HR to sort out the conflict. You want to avoid getting your boss involved if need be. You don’t want to look like you can’t resolve conflicts on your own. If this person doesn’t back down and insists on taking credit, then it’s time to go to HR and to show your boss the records you’ve been keeping to prove that it is in fact your work. Don’t get personal about it, so avoid whining. It’s important to remain professional.
Make your coworker recognize you as a collaborator instead of a rival. Bite the bullet and compliment them on their work to make them feel more secure instead of insecure. Ask for advice on a project you have. Try the best you can to make this person view you as a colleague, but if they’re unresponsive then it’s best to leave it at that. Focus on your relationship with your other coworkers. Become an integral team player with everyone else by praising work, meeting commitments, collaborating in a positive and productive manner and becoming a positive presence.
If you have more than just one overly competitive coworker, then your work culture may be to blame. It could be that your work culture is cultivating an environment that fuels competitiveness. Your managers may be encouraging or ignoring this behavior. If this isn’t the type of environment you wanted to work in then it’s best to start looking for another job. If it turns out it’s just the one worker, and you’ve tried to neutralize your situation with them and it hasn’t worked out, then it’s best to steer clear away from this person.