Josh is not alone in this world facing comparisons – refer to my case study shared last week. These types of scenarios often play out at the workplace and elsewhere. When a new hire joins, the team and stakeholders end up comparing the current incumbent with his or her predecessor: how they worked, the experiences they had or the failures and successes they got for the team and business.
While personalities and workplace cultures are discussed a lot, when it comes to comparisons, it can be subjective. Not everyone has the full picture and without all the context, there isn’t a need to compare past players with the current set of performers. Comparisons aren’t bad – looking up to people who are inspirational and trying to learn a thing or two can add value to your life. Comparisons leading to envy can however, take a toll.
Josh might find it hard to keep his mind away from such comparisons since it is only human to compare. Psychologists refer to the comparison trap as a situation to best avoid. Comparisons can be good to boost your self-esteem and consider the rewards and recognition that you get above others. It also has downsides with comparisons leading to negative thoughts, development of inferiority complex and even result in depression.
So, the best way to avoid the trap is to know that comparisons are normal and is a passing phase. People compare until they get used to the new ways of working. Also, comparisons don’t tend to matter when people gain maturity and the role progresses.
What can be done is to listen actively. Understand if the issues are functional or behavioral or both. See what can be addressed rather than being closed to suggestions. Ask why certain approaches worked in the past and why they continue to matter.
Establish best practices which will help improve the experience of stakeholders. Be proactive in how you engage with others. Being aware can also help you avoid forming wrong perceptions among those around you.
Know that your personal brand matters. Differentiating yourself from the rest is critical in whatever work you do. If you don’t invest in that, you will get distracted by comparisons. Everyone is unique on this planet and we are all born for a purpose. Make time to find your uniqueness, strengthen it and stay true to your values.
Remember, no matter who the world compares you to, you can’t be someone else. But, you can be your best self and more.