Aggressive Competitive People

Aggressive competitive people are very quick to overwhelm and manipulate others. They might even manage to commandeer your own achievements and use them to their own advantage. They're harmful people who make your work environment both anxious and stressful.
Aggressive Competitive People
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

We all, to a certain extent, have to compete in our lives. However, nowadays, you might find yourself up against some rather difficult and damaging people in the workplace. These are aggressive competitive people. Men and women who seek promotion by violating the rights of others. Furthermore, they create environments that are as complex as they are stressful for your psychological health.

You can probably think of a couple of examples right now. Because it’s true that this type of behavior occurs in all different kinds of scenarios. It might be school or university or even amongst your family and friends. In fact, it probably seems that there’s always someone who wants to outdo you, impress others, and win as many medals as they possibly can.

Whilst it’s true that competitiveness is a part of human personality, some people take it to the extreme. However, at some point, everyone is pressured to compete. For instance, when you play a sport or have a job interview, or even when you’re trying to win someone over.

Everyone needs to be the best at some point in their lives. How you do this says a lot about you and your psychological profile.

An office argument, perhaps aggressive competitive people.

What’s behind the aggressive competitive personality?

If you’ve ever had to deal with one or more aggressive competitive people, you probably felt anxious. However, it’s best in these situations to not fall into the trap of losing your cool. In fact, it’s really not worth getting involved in this extreme form of competitiveness, because it’ll only make you even more anxious.

Let’s see what’s behind this personality type.

Lack of self-esteem

Lack of self-esteem can manifest itself in many ways and can lead to very harmful behavioral patterns. In fact, harmfully competitive people constantly need notoriety because it makes them feel powerful. They don’t hesitate in being disrespectful to others in order to achieve their goals. This reinforces their image.

On the other hand, these men and women are living in a constant state of hypervigilance. They’re continually comparing themselves to others around them. In fact, if they think that someone else has become more noticeable than them, they’ll do anything to regain their prime position.

Black and white thinking

People who think in black and white have a very rigid and uncompromising mindset. For instance, their life consists only of winning or losing, having or not having, or being with you or against you.

Studies conducted at the University of Rochester, New York point out that these people don’t take into account inherent factors such as sociability, empathy, sense of cooperation, etc.

A man in profile.

Narcissism or psychopathic personality in aggressive competitive people

Aggressive competitive people can sometimes show a psychopathic personality. Indeed, focusing only on their own ends, and not hesitating to deceive, manipulate, abuse, or intimidate, fits this psychological profile perfectly.

However, this isn’t particularly common. In fact, it’s more usual that the aggressive competitive person has a narcissistic personality. This is because they’re constantly seeking visibility, validity, and admiration. Furthermore, to achieve these goals, they don’t hesitate in sabotaging other people’s rights.

What can you do when faced with an aggressive competitive person?

These people can have a tremendous effect on your work environment. The atmosphere deteriorates, the pressure to compete intensifies, and the environment becomes stressful. You feel emotionally worn out which obviously affects your psychological balance. To stay protected, think about the following:

  • If you choose to compete, don’t bite off more than you can chew. When there’s someone highly competitive in an environment, it tends to drive the others to compete as well. Therefore, if you choose to take this option, set yourself a limit. This is essential for your physical and psychological health. For example, if the aggressive competitive person chooses to do overtime, work out if this option also works for you before volunteering.
  • Protect your work. Remember that aggressive competitive people do bad things. For example, they won’t hesitate to hijack your work, learn your security codes, read your emails, or manipulate others to turn against you. You need to remember this in order to protect yourself.
  • Stay informed and let your bosses know about any irregular practices. This is also very important. Aggressive competitive people won’t hesitate to carry out illegal acts. Furthermore, these stunts can end up reflecting badly on the entire organization. Therefore, it’s important that you get proof and warn your bosses.
A man with his head in his hands.

Further advice

In conclusion, it’s clear that these types of situations can be highly complex. Indeed, it’s certainly not easy to deal with these kinds of people. However, you must always safeguard your integrity at all costs.

Competition in any area of life will make you grow, as long as it’s a respectful kind of competitiveness and doesn’t become contaminated by aggression, humiliation, or boycotting of any kind.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Magee, J. C., Galinsky, A. D., Gruenfeld, D. H., & Wagner, R. F. (2007). Power, propensity to negotiate, and moving first in competitive interactions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin33(2), 200–212.
  • Reeve, J., & Deci, E. L. (2008). Elements of the Competitive Situation that Affect Intrinsic Motivation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin22(1), 24–33.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.