Cooperation Over Competition

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Competition says “I will win at any cost even if it means taking you down in the process.” Cooperation says “How can I help you or be of service, what do you need next personally or professionally?”

The definition of “Compete” is to strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. It also means to take part in a contest. Winning is fine for sports, contests, competitions etc. That’s the place where striving to win or defeating the opposition is an acceptable form of competition. If I am competing in a speech contest as I have in the past or submitting an entry in a writing contest, I want to win. I want to be the one who defeats the competition. Olympians train for years to defeat the competition and win the Gold Medal. It’s a triumph for all their hard work. Competition is healthy in that sense. Also in business where it’s a winner takes all type of bid for a contract. If your company has the best proposal to win the competitive bid process, that’s a normal part of doing business. There can still be a cooperative aspect to that process but for the most part it’s about winning the competition.

Competition that tears people down for the benefit of the competitor to destroy or tear apart the other person to create a win for them is a different kind and not something you want to be involved in. Here are some examples of unhealthy competition:

  1. Politics – people who run for office often have to endure the unhealthiest of competition. Instead of focusing more on the positive things they can do to help people. They focus on the negative things that the other side has done in their past. They often go on a smear campaign to say how unfit that person is because they made some kind of mistake in their lives. Take any political election as an example; President, Governor, Senator, Mayor all of them.
  2. Sports – Sports are competitive by nature but when the competition turns ugly with one side cheating or doing something to cause them to unfairly win takes the healthy competition to unhealthy. One of the widest publicized example of this was the Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan rivalry where Tonya Harding was involved in hiring someone to break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg to eliminate her from the competition. While it did take her out for a time, she came back and won the silver medal at the Olympic in Lillehammer. Tonya finished 8th and eventually was found guilty of involvement in the attack and banned for life from skating.
  3. Professional Jealousy – My father used to tell me about professional jealousy when I was a kid. I didn’t understand what he meant but have been reminded of that conversation many times. Professional Jealousy occurs when one person or group gets jealous of or angry with another person or group. They can go as far as spreading false rumors about the other person or group, making false statements, telling half truths or digging up old things from their past and attempting to use it against them. This usually always comes back on them in a bad way.

Unhealthy competition comes from fear. Fear that there’s not enough or fear that someone else might be successful instead of you. Sometimes people do us wrong and we feel like we have to take them down in order to set it right. All any of that does is stir up negativity and toxicity. Nothing healthy or good ever comes out of setting out to destroy another person, group or company.

So how do we overcome this type of competition? We must strive to work in cooperation with one another, seeking to help each other reach the top. I am a member of many organizations to help my business grow. One of them, eWomen Network has a great slogan that says “lift as you climb.” What that means is as you go up, bring others along with you.

If we strive to work and live in cooperation, realizing that we are here to support each other and that there’s enough room at the top for everyone, maybe there will be less destructive situations and more cooperation among us.



Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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