Mindfulness;Cooperation versus competition at work

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Over the years in life , therapy and mindfulness classes I have met many people working in private business or big business.An issue frequently raised is the issue of fierce sometimes destructive competitive behavior versus cooperation in the work place.

I do understand that companies like to reward workers for performance. I also understand the need for some performance based reviews, as all of us have areas we may need to work on. However the definition of performance perhaps needs to be broadened and softened.Instead of being rigidly work performance based there could be some inclusion of the other areas in which workers can add value. For instance their ability to be cooperative with others, their ability to work well with colleagues,  or their ability to be vulnerable. I will mention each individually.

Ability to work cooperatively with others

All of us humans experience fear. In the work place it is usually fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of losing the job or fear of being beaten. If we do not acknowledge these very human and normal fears with acceptance we will be controlled by them. This can drive some unhelpful behavior such as; being fiercely competitive with others, wanting to bring others down or treating our coworkers badly but sucking up to the boss.

The way to move beyond this behavior is simply to honestly acknowledge it in ourselves in a very nonjudgmental way. Also to see the fear that lies beneath it.Once we  truly acknowledge something it will not control us and we can choose then a more cooperative approach.

The truth is that cooperation makes us far more likely to succeed. None of us is good at everything and the help of others is always valuable. Likewise they can be helped by us.

If we choose to do our best at work and cooperate we are far more likely to succeed in a wholesome, happy and long term way than if we get caught up in competitiveness.

Ability to get on well with our coworkers not just the boss

Many people feel that the only way to succeed or not be beaten is to bring others down around them. Sadly even our politicians do this sometimes.

It may feel good for the ego for five minutes if we bring a colleague down or squash them on our way forward. However I guarantee it will not feel good in the long term. We will alienate our colleagues, no one will enjoy working with us and we ruin our chances of helpful support and cooperation.If we suck up to the boss we may progress short term but this situation does not create happiness.

It is far better just to do our best and work cooperatively with people. We have a very good chance of success in the long run and we will be happy.Of course sometimes we may succeed more than others, that is Ok we are meant to put our best foot forward.Occasionally if there are some aggressively competitive people around us, we may need to get good at selling ourselves or standing up for ourselves firmly and fairly.Cooperation with others can also help. The way forward can always be done in a wholesome manner we do not ever have to deliberately bring others down.

The science of quantum physics is telling us that we are all connected. It is therefore true that what we do to others we do to ourselves. It follows then that there is great wisdom in treating others with kindness and cooperation.

Ability to be vulnerable

It may seem very alien to many of you that a willingness to be vulnerable can help us in the workplace. However it definitely can.

I will list many helpful aspects of being vulnerable.

  • Vulnerability may include a willingness to acknowledge our issues, those things that we may need to work on in the work place. This means that if we have a performance appraisal we really are willing to listen and learn from it. Instead of being defensive and not learning.
  • Vulnerability may include a willingness to be honest with ourselves about our challenging emotions. For example I was talking about how fear can control us and create unhelpful behavior. If we acknowledge that fear nonjudgmentally we will be able to move beyond it.Also there are times for all of us where we experience issues in our family or struggles at work. It is far healthier to be able to acknowledge these and get some help.A willingness to talk to trusted colleagues deepens friendships and creates valuable support.
  • Vulnerability may also include a willingness to admit we don’t know something or are not good at something. If we can admit this then we can use our strengths well and call support in for those things that are not our strong point. This has far more likelihood of creating overall success.
  • Vulnerability may also include a willingness to not have to be right all the time. When we can admit our mistakes nonjudgmentally and quickly we will be able to learn from them and move on. Again increasing our chances of success.
  • Vulnerability may also involve a willingness to face fear and push ourselves forward. Perhaps take on something that is new or challenging even if it is a little scary.Also to be willing to believe in ourselves and promote what we are capable of.

Vulnerability definitely has advantages in the workplace.

The opportunity for all businesses and for staff is to be willing to work cooperatively, to treat others with respect  and to be vulnerable. What a wonderful way to move forward.