Want to Authentically Connect With Peers? 10 Ways To Break Out of a Competitive Mindset

Building long-lasting relationships with peers requires moving away from competition and toward supporting their successes.

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.

In a business setting, it's difficult not to think of your peers as competition. Whether they are within your immediate team or running their own company with an offering similar to yours, it's inevitable that you'll begin comparing yourself to them, assuming that their every success may mean lost opportunities for you.

The true reality is that people can occupy the same spaces at the same time without feeling threatened by one another. The first step is recognizing that no matter how similar a situation may seem, no two people walk the same path. To help professionals escape from a competitive mindset and build healthy relationships, 10 Newsweek Expert Forum members give advice on how to connect with peers without comparing yourself to their successes.

1. Uplift Their Success

A healthy way to connect with peers without falling into the comparison trap is to uplift their success. Giving someone a sincere congratulations will get you into a non-competitive headspace that will allow you to internalize another's success as a positive happening versus something that triggers negative feelings like competition and jealousy. - Priscila Martinez, The Brand Agency

2. Learn About Them as a Person

This is tough since the way most leadership teams are designed promotes an inherent sense of competition. Competition, when healthy and not dysfunctional, can create opportunities for connection. Celebrate other people's successes, and don't make it personal. Make time to talk to your peers about their wins and what they could use support on. Learn more about them as a person and not just as a colleague. - Jacob Kupietzky, HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting

3. Focus on the Value of the Relationship

There are social hierarchies, but focus on the meaning of the relationship and the value you get out of it. Connect with peers who have a shared vision. Be humble enough to allow peers to teach you what you don't know while being mindful of your own gifts and talents. When you envy others, it has a significantly negative effect on your task performance, which can also impact your success. - Barbara Rubel, Griefwork Center, Inc.

4. Be Empathetic

The most powerful word in the English language could be "empathy." We should not just feel empathy in times of hardship or sadness. Instead, we should share in the success of others and recognize the potential struggle that most likely existed before the achievement of that success. - Cheri Beranek, Clearfield

5. Remember Your Unique Story

Remember that you have a unique story. No two people follow the exact same path, so there is no true comparison. Focus on being the best you that you can be and celebrate success no matter where it shows up. - Diane Helbig, Helbig Enterprises

6. Limit Social Media Exposure

Not overreacting to social media posts by our peers is vital to maintaining healthy relationships and staying connected. Social media posts are easily misinterpreted, at times depicting a false measure of happiness and success. I also recommend limiting the amount of time you read your peers' social media posts. - Matt Drayton, Drayton Communications LLC

7. Find Common Interests

I find the best way to make a connection with people is to find a common interest. First, think of them as fellow humans who have interests like family, sports, travel, etc. Find out where there is overlap. I find it's so easy to talk about sports or their hometown as an icebreaker. Getting to know people beyond their profession makes for a much more authentic connection to build from. - Michael Frazier, Bedell Frazier Investment Counselling

8. Do Tactile Experiences Together

I find somatic experiences to be the best way to connect with my peers. Whether we go for a hike, jump in the bay together and swim or do some sort of team-building activity, it keeps the ego in check and the comparison out of the equation. By being on the same level and supporting each other in a tactile experience, we connect as equals. - Elliott Smith, The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center

9. Strive to Make Lasting Internal Changes

Feeling either superior or inferior to someone will always put us at odds with peers on our team. There is only one mentally healthy comparison we can ever make and that is when we compare our progress of changing who we were yesterday to who we are today. When we do this, we connect with our peers because we can celebrate their success without feeling threatened. - Sonja Wasden, The Gap Press

10. Explore Topics Outside of Your Professional Lives

I think it's critical that you speak with your peers about topics outside of the day-to-day grind. I have known most of my peers for a long time and we always keep it real. Whether it's about family, fun or something else, be respectful of each other's opinions and value each other. It actually might shock someone if you didn't spend your entire conversation talking about you and your company. It's important to listen and pay attention. - Paul Miller, Miller & Company LLP

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
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