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The Peril in Comparing Yourself to Your Co-Workers

We're all on our own path and track in life and it can be detrimental to compare yourself to others in the workplace and life in general.

Jealousy in the workplace is a brain game that will only make your life more challenging. Why? Because no matter how hard we try, we cannot be someone else, and why would we want to be? Plus, just because someone else is successful because they approach situations a certain way, doesn't mean you will be if it's not the way you would typically do something based on your nature. Also, being envious or jealous of someone else for any reason is energy that would be better served by improving yourself or focusing on your own work. [TWEET]

Not all comparison is bad.

To be clear, I'm not implying that you can't learn from others, especially when you're new to a company, team or project; in fact, you'll need to understand how things work and the typical processes before you consider a different approach or your own way of doing things. There's also an important difference between comparison and seeking information. Being interested in how the experts, or those with higher level positions, do things to understand how they achieved the success they have is different than feeling badly that they have something you don't.

The comparison that makes us feel bad about ourselves is not productive.

For this article, I'm talking about avoiding comparisons that can make us feel bad or inferior to others, as well as the frequent comparison between how you approach your work and how others approach their work (because you think you might be doing it wrong if you're different). It's human nature for us to compare ourselves to others, but it doesn't improve our status, make us a better person, or secure our happiness. In many cases it does the opposite by making us feel bad about ourselves as mentioned above.

Avoid comparing yourself to others, and instead focus on yourself and your strengths, development, and performance to secure personal success. We each have our own path with personal goals and objectives that will be met in our own time. Below, I've provided some additional insights from experience and observations that highlight why comparing yourself to others can be a futile endeavor.  

Finding your own way is more important than doing it someone else's way.

You can always try to do your work the way it's suggested you do it. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, find a way that does work for you to be as efficient and successful at your job as possible. There are several ways to get from point A to point C with the same result, and your way might look different than your co-worker’s, which is OK. With that said, if someone else's way does indeed work better than your way and is easy enough to adopt, choose to be smart vs. stubborn.

No one else experiences or perceives things exactly the way you do.

Because this is true, it also makes sense that we would each have our own unique way of approaching work responsibilities, conflicts, troubleshooting, and more. Problem solving works best when we each work together and bring our own perspectives to the table. The world would be a boring place if we all saw things or perceived things the same way.

There's only one you.

Allow yourself to bring your own unique perspective to your work and team. This doesn't mean that you won't agree with others' suggestions and ways of doing things. It does mean that you want to be clear that you are choosing to be authentic and voice your thoughts and suggestions when appropriate. Don't be afraid to speak up and offer a solution if you truly think it could be helpful.

Those who matter see the truth.

If you're concerned about how you're doing compared to someone else, you're wasting energy that could be spent on identifying ways you could improve or more effectively complete your own work. Typically, from my experience, your manager or supervisor will be aware of your effort compared to others, and it's not your responsibility or business to know how others are doing their work unless you've been asked to know.

You are enough the way you are.

It's true. Often, when you compare yoursef to others, it stems from feelings of inadequacy, like you're not doing enough/not good enough. When you find your jealousy or inadequacy gremlins creeping up on your shoulder and encouraging you to compare yourself to others, take a moment to notice and explore why. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are enough by simply showing up and doing the best you can do at what you're doing.

The grass isn't always greener.

Any time you begin to compare yourself to someone else or feel jealousy or envy creeping up, remember that you don't really know that person's story, the steps they’ve taken and possible sacrifices they’ve made to have what they have. We often think we want what we don't have; the reality is that the grass might look greener on the other side, but until we walk in someone else's shoes, we don't really know what his or her grass looks like.

Successful people don't compare themselves to others.

In one of my recent articles, 8 Traits of Highly Effective Leaders, I touch on this. Highly effective leaders understand that "we are each on our own path with our own mark to leave on the world."

Avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.

When you're not comparing yourself to others and whether or not someone is doing better than you, you can also eliminate the undue stress and anxiety that can come with jealousy in the workplace.

To reiterate, I'm not implying that all comparison is bad. It's why you're comparing that matters. Per a NY Times post, social psychologist and author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, Heidi Grant Halvorson, was reported stating, "Upward comparison can be punishing and make you feel terrible, but you can also look upward and learn."

On a final note, when the opposite happens, and you find others comparing themselves to you, choose not to engage. If you engage with those who ask you about the feedback you receive at work or how much you get paid, and so on, it often ends with a negative outcome. When this type of information is shared, one person generally feels bad or upset because they get paid less or receive less positive feedback.

I understand that not comparing yourself to others is easier said than done, but hopefully, this post will help you become more aware of your behavior and how you can support it for the best outcome possible. Not comparing is a practice that most of us, myself included, need friendly reminders about, so you're not alone.   

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!