Dealing with Workplace Rivalry: What to do with unhealthy competition

Competition is everywhere. Even if you are not a big fan of it, it’s ever-present in different situations. At home with siblings, with classmates from school, bidding at eBay, that morning train rush, and yes, one of the intense daily competitions you’ll face is workplace rivalry.  

Being competitive seems like human nature by now. There is always the need to be better than others. This can be an inherent behavior or for some, motivated by incentives. Some office rivalries are healthy, however, it’s undeniable that there are instances where friendly competitions take a wrong turn. 

Excessive workplace competition can result in stress and unsound rivalry. Some would often go as far as to harm or do unethical practices to get ahead of everyone. Fortunately, office rivalries can be managed and the tension can be curbed before it escalates to something more serious.

Here are some tips on how to manage office workplace rivalries to ensure healthy competition and a happy working environment. 

In the first part, we will discuss what are the possible steps you can take if you are trying to resolve office rivalry. 

Get to the root of rivalry

Those involved in unhealthy workplace rivalry should know that their issues can cause discomfort in the office. Sometimes, even team performance is affected. 

If you are looking to subdue the situation, it’s a must to know the source of the fight. Is it job performance? Conflicting opinions? Different personality traits? There could be a lot of factors and learning what it is can help with taming down the situation or better, reconciliation. 

Take lead

Office rivalry can become a serious issue, especially when it starts to affect performance and cooperation. When the rest of the office takes sides, one confident person should take lead in resolving the issues. 

If you are this person, put your conflicting officemates at ease by offering to resolve the tension and problems. Listen to both parties and assess the situation. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll be friends overnight but surely they will appreciate your effort at taking the first step in solving office issues. 

Seek help from supervisors

If the situation is getting out of hand, seek the intervention of your supervisor. If the workplace rivalry is seriously impacting office cohesion and disrupts workflow, take it to your superiors, inform them of the situation, and ask them to appease the situation. 

In the second part here, we will tell you what you can do if you are the one involved in an unhealthy workplace rivalry. 

Let work output talk

Actions speak louder than words. If you are head-on with a co-worker trying to outperform you, keep calm and let your work output speak. The best way to beat down people who are trying to outshine you is to be the best at what you do. Keep working, keep improving, and let your performance tell everyone that you deserve where you are right now. 

Aside from work, pay attention to your work ethics, character, and attitude as well. Accept constructive criticisms from people who seriously care and work hard to become a better person. 

Don’t recruit colleagues (unless necessary)

It’s tempting to recruit colleagues during competitions. However, it’s not a good image to paint so it is ideal to not ask your friends or officemates to take sides unless it is necessary. Asking for alliance means that you are pitting uninvolved people against others. What’s more, is that getting your colleagues to side with you can mean you have no confidence to fight battles yourself. 

However, the exception for this is a cold-blooded rival. If this rival is throwing you under the bus, defaming you out of your hard work, and sabotaging your projects, having people at your side who know and believe in you makes everything a tad bit better. Aside from that, this also builds connections and relationships. 


Your rival’s presence might irritate you to the core and if you let your emotions take over, it is easy for this someone to occupy your mind, making you lose focus on the actual work. Making them the center of work-life means they’ve won and have succeeded in throwing you off the rails. 

Talk to them

If the unnecessary fights are draining you out, maybe it’s time to be the bigger person, talk to them, and appease the situation. Make sure to talk calmly, listen to the other person without raising your voices or battling it out with ego. Tell them that the rivalry is no longer healthy and that you aspire to work in a healthy environment.