4 Ways to Stop Unhealthy Comparison in the Workplace

Published on: 05 Nov 2019
Clinically Reviewed by Cynthia V. Catchings LCSW-S
Comparing in this office

We all compare ourselves to those around us, it’s human nature. Social media makes this comparison game seemingly impossible to avoid. We all have fallen into endless scrolling of someone ’s timeline, or seeing a new LinkedIn update and think, “Why don’t I have that job?” or “Why can’t I work for that company?” Now, it’s much easier to look at what your peers have and instantly feel you don’t have enough — in every aspect of life. Our natural reaction might be to try and compete with others for the wrong reasons. In many cases we might compete because we feel insecure or less-than, rather than for for personal growth or development.

Competition at work more often than not leads to stress. Unhealthy stress in turn can create a toxic environment for you and colleagues. Toxic environments, where you don’t feel supported or feel inadequate can hinder productivity as well. Fortunately, there are ways to help mitigate comparative thoughts at work and to help you feel engaged and happier on the job.


Often when we compare ourselves to someone at work it is out of admiration and something we wish to find within ourselves. Instead of comparing and focusing on what you don’t have, try to focus that energy to reflect on why you feel that way and where the feelings come from. Ask yourself:

  • What do you admire about the person?
  • Were they promoted recently? (Perhaps that means you are feeling the need for your own growth)
  • Do they receive a lot of recognition?

You might be feeling that you need more feedback on your job performance, more motivation from management, more collaboration with peers.

By reflecting on these moments of comparison and looking inward, you can find out more about yourself and the reasons behind your thoughts.

List Your Accomplishments

It is easy to forget about our own accomplishments when we are constantly comparing ourselves to those around us. The next time you are feeling these comparative thoughts coming on, grab a notebook and start jotting down what — of the things you accomplished in the last year, month, week, even day — you are most proud of. You will most certainly recognize that you have accomplished more than you realized. This list can also clue you in to opportunities for growth and goals that you would like to accomplish in the future.

Goal Setting

Competition isn’t always bad. In fact, there are benefits to a bit of healthy competition to help motivate and inspire us and to become more aware of our goals. Reflect again and what strikes you about someone else, consider how you can get to that goal, and what will help you feel motivated to get there. That person may have traits you admire, but don’t necessarily align with who you are. (E.g.: Someone who is a public speaker might impress you, but that may not be something you want to pursue.) Goal setting can certainly help you reframe your competitive feelings and help you focus on attainable goals.

Spend Time With Your Peers

The best way to understand how your peers got to where they are, is to ask them. Spend time with them. Ask them out to coffee. Compliment them. By creating new friendships — instead of viewing your coworkers as the competition — you can boost your confidence, build your network, and improve relationships. Another way to do this is to ask for feedback on a presentation or project to understand the thought processes of your talented peers.

It is all too easy to compare ourselves to others. But if we have the tools to change our mindset and focus on our professional and personal development, we will be happier and healthier, and more capable of real, sustainable career growth.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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