I am a very competitive person. And, I don’t just like to compete for the sake of competing; I like to win. Furthermore, many things are games to me and I love to play games. Since childhood, my friends and I have played a silly game on the first day of the month in which a “secret” code word is said and the first person to say it is rewarded with a pre-determined reward. This game has morphed many times over the years and it is a game still played by my spouse and me. We have had a lot of fun playing the game, even when one or both of us are out of town, in different cities and time zones, and we never forget the date! Friendly competition is healthy and positive in a relationship, but only when both people involved agree to the rules and continue to enjoy playing the game together. If something changes and one person no longer enjoys playing, it is time to retire the game and look for other sources of amusement. For example, my father-in-law worked for many years for a large trucking company and during that time, my husband and I played a game that involved saying the name of the company every time we saw one of its trucks. Whoever spotted the most trucks would be declared the winner at the end of the trip. (We are road warriors; anything we can do to break the monotony helps!) When my father-in-law retired, the truck naming game retired along with him; somehow, the game was no longer fun. The point is to spice up life a little by playing a game, engaging in friendly competition, and have fun!
There are many ways friendly competition can be used and can be helpful. The games Melissa mentions are for fun and to help break the monotony or temper work place stress and tensions. I recently discussed some of this with a computer programmer who manages many other programmers and he spoke of occasionally challenging the other programmers to solve mathematical equations as a competition (fun things nerds do). Anyway, whether as stress relievers or for other purposes, fostering friendly competition in the workplace can be useful. Another use for such competition is to create it around a job task such as a sales goal or the completion of finished products. There are times when this friendly workplace competition can include motivating rewards and build morale as a result. The key to workplace competition is fun, nothing punitive. (The latter type of competition is destructive and should be avoided at all costs.) Finally, not everyone wants to compete; take care not to introduce something into the workplace that makes employees uncomfortable. An example of this is a competition built around weight loss. Any competition involving such personal matters must be carefully considered before being implemented. When health or fitness programs are considered, there are ways to use metrics that are less personal than actual weight – such as steps walked or stairs climbed. If you are an employer, consider the options; if you are an employee, mention concerns to ensure that things intended as positive don’t result in unintended negatives.