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Why do people compare me with others?

Josh is an automation professional and has been a consistent player in the team. He is positively changing the way the team is now perceived – as a group that demonstrates value to the business. However, he is often compared with the earlier incumbent in the role. The ‘other’ person was jovial, did stuff at the last minute and made people ‘happy’. Josh discusses his dilemma with his friend Alok. Read the case and share your thoughts.

Josh: “There is something on my mind that is troubling me. I wanted to discuss with you.”

Alok: “Sure thing bro. What bothers you?”

Josh: “You know I have been in this role for a year and it irks me when I get compared to the earlier person”.

Alok: “Really? What do you they compare you on?”

Josh: “Well, many levels – first on my work. Then, on my personality. Third, on my style of operating”.

Alok: “Wow. That’s a lot of time people have on their hands to discuss other stuff apart from work! Just joking. Why do you think they are comparing?”

Josh: “Can’t figure out. Is it because they have experienced a certain way of functioning and don’t know better? Or, it could be their expectations aren’t set?”

Alok: “Hmm. Interesting reasons. What about the effort you have done to reach out to stakeholders internally?”

Josh: “What do you mean?”

Alok: “Like, introducing yourself and letting them know what you do and why you are in the place you are in.”

Josh: “Ah. I never thought of that. I have met with stakeholders.”

Alok: “But, was it on transactional stuff? Like they need an app developed or some usability standards built in for their online version – and you helped out.”

Josh: “Yes, mostly that. What else will they come to me for? I am doing what is expected of me”.

Alok: “So, what do they specifically compare you with?”

Josh: ”I am told the earlier person was jovial, did things without much of a brief (it helped people meet deadlines) and did a lot of extra stuff, which wasn’t really in our remit”.

Alok: “Do they know the risks which come with doing stuff without a brief?”

Josh: “Doesn’t seem like they have been informed or they wouldn’t practice this!”

Alok: “Can’t say. They may not be aware. Why don’t you crack some jokes and fit in? Just suggesting….”

Josh: “That isn’t me. I am jovial but not with people I am not comfortable with. Do I need to change who I am?”

Alok: “This isn’t easy. Can’t fathom why they continue comparing you even when the person has long left the organization?”

Josh mulls these thoughts from Alok.

What’s at play here? What must Josh do to overcome this feeling of comparison? Must he do anything or let it be? Can we really do much to change perceptions others have of him?

Do share your thoughts on this case. Would love to hear from you.

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