The surprising benefits of workplace nemeses

2019-05-29 | BY Proven Recruiting's Editorial Team | IN Hiring, Job Seekers, Recruiting, Work Life

The surprising benefits of workplace nemeses

An office without some level of disaccord is essentially impossible; it seems to be a rule of nature that every Jim has a Dwight. And it’s easy to see that as a negative – especially if your workplace rival has an annoying tendency to roll their eyes or speak over you in meetings.

Here’s the thing: a simple mindset shift can help you to not only outshine your competition, but to drastically increase your workplace satisfaction while reducing unnecessary anxiety.

Many people talk about the value of workplace friends – few discuss the benefits of workplace enemies. Follow these tips to make the most of your rivals.

The basis of workplace competition.

Competition at work isn’t just inevitable – it’s actively encouraged. Studies have shown that healthy competition can motivate innovation and increase productivity. Managers know this fact and take full advantage of its motivating benefits through incentive trips, bonuses, and leaderboards.

But what happens when competition arises naturally, is founded in resentment, and is significantly disrupting your workflow?

Sometimes a rival can be a beacon.

The best peers, mentors, and leaders are those who can push you beyond your usual limits; the people who make you feel at least somewhat uncomfortable. Yes – that definition is a far cry from an enemy, but you can see where we’re going with this.

Enemies offer some things that friends simply cannot; they challenge your ideas, criticize your work, and question your decisions. As stressful as that sounds, it’s actually an amazing opportunity to reevaluate your ambitions and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. ‘Getting along’ is nice, but there’s nothing that quite compares to the feeling of finding your equal and outshining them.

Time and again we’ve seen the benefits of productive conflict. Pushing up against your co-workers is more than natural; it’s necessary for success. If you got along with everyone, what would encourage you to improve? Motivation has to come from multiple sources, inside and out.

Channel your resentment – even enragement – into something productive and meaningful. Plus, there’s no sweeter revenge than being happy, care-free, and successful.

Sometimes an enemy is just an enemy.

Not every rival is destined to be a friend-in-disguise. Some people are intentionally malicious or rude, and you shouldn’t show any leniency for this behavior. If someone is undermining your influence – skirting the dictates of professionalism – it’s fair to calmly and respectfully ask them to stop or report them to your manager or HR, depending on the situation.

What will you do now?

When someone steals your clients or outpaces you on the leaderboard, it’s easy to get angry. This reaction will leave you feeling stressed and less likely to regain your previous eminence.

Instead, come at the problem from another perspective. Laugh off snide comments and use your extra energy to develop your skills and make your way back to the top – maybe higher than you were previously. Use your enemy as motivation.

At the same time, if your office is full of enemies it may be time for a new workplace. WHO you work with is just as important as WHAT you do. Send us your resume at to learn about friendlier opportunities in your area of expertise.

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