How to deal with workplace competition

How to deal with workplace competition

Let's face it, workplace competition is at an all time high, with an estimated 23 million software developers worldwide, and the innate human nature of the desire of being the best, how could there be anything but a competitive work environment. The real question is, how do you manage this conflict on a personal level. Do you cry outrage when anyone insults your work? Is it all in good fun, Or is it something, perhaps more sinister? Where is the line between bullying and comradery?

I've been playing this game for a while now, and I have a few opinions on the matter. Let me share them with you.

Do you cry outrage when anyone insults your work?

Let's talk about the main point of competition at work, the dreaded pull request. I can not for the life of me understand the backwards logic that was behind making this standard, but it seems to be a thing of reality now. I've seen entire contracts be cancelled, due to the never ending arguments on pull requests.

And hey, let's face it, no one likes to be criticized, myself included. But there are a couple of ways to handle someone slamming into your pull request. For example, check out this pull request gone south. There was a few ways he could of handled that criticism. The 10 page essay explaining why everything he did was perfect.... probably not the best choice.

How could of he done better? Easy. Ask the writer to be more specific. That is a good life rule in general, if someone says something far too large and vague, like, this whole PR is sloppy. Instead of getting all bent out of shape over it, you could say something like: It's possible this PR is sloppy, could you be more specific so that I can improve?

Is it all in good fun, Or is it something, perhaps more sinister?

Hey, I am all for being the best, I'd go as far as to say if you care about advancing your career, its your duty to become the best. Buuuutt, there is a fine line between demanding the best from yourself, and cutting others down to get ahead. There is something about challenging others to be the best that can can really spark joy in a workplace. Let's say a co-worker is late for work. Coy comments like, geez man, late again? Can really drop a subtle cue that the other person is slipping, and is a great way to challenge them to strive for excellence. (Professionals show up on time and are well prepared) But, this is a slippery slope, there is a fine line between throwing a friendly dig at another person and straight up stabbing them in the back. It's an entirely different thing to be complaining about how your co-worker "shows up whenever he wants", not only is that childish and cowardly I think you only bring harm to yourself with that approach. You want the guy who shows up late all the time gone? Bam. Your wish is granted, more work for you, dumbass.

Where is the line between bullying and comradery?

That is a tricky one, and it there aren't any clear cut answers here. I frequently go back and forth on this one, and I think it takes great care and caution. There is something to be said about keeping eachother sharp, and then there is straight up stabbing someone. I have a few rules for myself here that I think are good ones to follow. Sometimes people are off their game, we've all been there, you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, your running slow and you are just out of it. If you can tell a co-worker is having one of those days, now is a really not the time to make a dig about them showing up late, or pointing out a typo. Maybe help them out, give them a friendly reminder about a meeting coming up, or ask them if they need help with anything. However, sometimes you are on fire, you've finished everything on time, you really killed that last bit of work, and you can't be touched. Now that is awesome... but when you are on a spree like this, you can get really dumb really fast. Now would be a great time to throw a friendly zinger their way, give them a healthy reality check.

These are my thoughts on office competition, let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Stay safe out there,

  • Joseph.

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