September 22, 2015
When does healthy competition become jealousy?
Competition, jealousy and stress all factor into our lives but knowing what to do about them gives us the power to control those feelings (not the other way around), so we spoke to Chartered Psychologist (HCPC Registered) Kisane Prutton about how to handle competition when it threatens to become a green-eyed monster…
“Healthy competition is good for business because it creates diversity and dynamics and creativity,” says Prutton. That line is crossed when competition becomes personal or conflicting and I can’t be alone in recognising that I’ve crossed that before, so why does it happen?
“A significant cause of problems lies with situational factors, it is not as simple as a ‘personality clash’” Prutton explains. “When working with organisations we’re looking to make sure that you’ve got good managers who are implementing fair systems so that everyone can have a crack at an opportunities whether that may lead to a promotion or better pay or even to just access to things that are socially desirable, such as being invited to a meetings or included in a social events”.
Having the same chance at promotions or presentations or other opportunities means that you’re less likely to get into toxic competition with your colleagues and creating this culture comes down to your Manager or Team Leader. If you are that Manager or Team Leader, Prutton advises that you have regular meetings with your staff to talk about their personal wellbeing as well as their achievements at work:
“You should have communication systems in place where the spotlight is on the individual; a manager should be holding, at a minimum, quarterly reviews. These meetings are not simply to monitor what targets have been achieved but to ask of the individual “how are you and what can I do to help you? What is getting in the way of your work and what can I do to help you achieve more?”
All of this is great, of course, but what about when you’re the employee and you can feel this toxic competition seeping into your working life?
“Thanks to the technological revolution, we have very little time in the 21st century to sit down and reflect. We are all busy, busy, busy overwhelmed by emails, phone calls and back-to-back meetings but the power of reflection is really important. This is why people find it attractive to meditate or do mindfulness training or yoga, so they can stop and think, and these are the times when we can actually self check our cognitions and think ‘why do I feel sick?’ ‘Why is my stomach churning?’ and that’s when you become self-aware that you are caught up in something toxic”.
Struggling to get those answers from yourself? Get a friend to help you balance your perceptions and challenge them. So you think you’re not as creative as your colleague? Your friend will be there to remind you that whilst that might be the case, you’re actually great at presenting and have unfaltering confidence.
When it comes to jealousy in the workplace, there’s an interesting gender difference too. Prutton refers to Spanish research which suggested that although men and women show equal levels of envy towards powerful people in the workplace, women are more likely to experience jealousy than men when it relates to physical attraction.
So come on ladies, show some sisterly love and keep that competition healthy.