How to Avoid Sore Loser Syndrome on a Job Hunt or in the Workplace

By Chelsea Babin

Think back to elementary school gym class. Whether it was an ultra competitive dodge ball game or a friendly game of horse, there always seemed to be that one kid who took losing way too personally. Everyone would try to explain to this kid that winning wasn’t the end of the world but sore loser syndrome had taken over and there was no reasoning with their temper tantrum. And while adult onset sore loser syndrome doesn’t result in as many temper tantrums, it does pop up far too often in the workplace and during a job hunt. Afraid you may have caught it?

Symptoms of Sore Loser Syndrome:

1. Jealousy When Coworkers Get Promotions or Raises: Thinking of your career as a competition is a pretty poisonous mindset that can lead to extreme jealousy when your coworkers get promotions or raises and you don’t. If your first instinct is to grumble about how unfair it is rather than congratulate your coworkers on their achievement, you might be a sore loser.

2. Anger When Someone Else Gets the Job You Interviewed for: What could they possibly have that you don’t? Why did they give the job you were perfect for to someone else? While it’s normal to feel upset after you’ve gone through an extensive interview process and a company has decided to go with someone else, it’s important to make sure this doesn’t turn to anger. As soon as it does you’re venturing into sore loser territory.

3. Undercutting or Minimizing the Success of Others: Oh, you got a raise and I didn’t? It’s probably because the boss feels bad for you. If a thought like this has ever gone through your head, beware! You’re inching towards sore loser syndrome and that’s something you don’t want to have.

4. Gloating or Trash Talking When It’s Your Turn in the Spotlight: When your idea is chosen or you win an interoffice competition you’re happy to gloat and trash talk for days on end. While you haven’t lost in this scenario, this is still a symptom of being a sore loser. Why? Because all of that gloating and trash talking is sure to make your next loss feel even more brutal than it would have otherwise.

5. Inability to Walk Away: You sent a company your resume and they still haven’t gotten back to you. You’ve called them back twice to check on the status but nothing seems to be happening. What do you do? If your answer is something along the lines of keep calling every day until they give you a straight answer, you might be a sore loser.

Here’s how to fight the symptoms off for good:

1. Immediate Congratulations: When your coworkers announce their promotion or raise to you what should you do? You should always offer your congratulations, immediately, without fail. Being happy for others when they’re having success is a great step towards having a more positive attitude, even when you feel you’ve lost out on that opportunity.

2. Setback as a Setup for a Comeback: Everyone loves a good comeback story. But how can you have a comeback if you never have a setback? The next time you’re facing a big loss in the workplace or on the job hunt, view it as a setup for a comeback rather than viewing it as a loss to put a positive, motivating spin on the situation.

3. Gain Perspective: There are typically no trophies to be won for a big career win. If someone else got the job you were interviewing for you didn’t lose it, you never had it. Someone else got a thing you want but you didn’t actually lose anything. The same thing goes for raises or clients or recognition in the workplace. If you gain a little perspective you’ll see that this setback is a small portion of your career as a whole.

4. Refuel Your Motivation: Rather than dwelling on the negative feelings you have after losing, you should take this opportunity to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and refuel your motivation. If you can move on and keep moving forward you’ll never fall into the sore loser trap again.

5. Opportunity to Improve: Sometimes you can’t help it. You keep thinking about the promotion or job you lost out on. If this is the case, focus on what you could have done differently and use this setback as an opportunity to improve. You can identify the areas you were lacking in compared to the person who got what you wanted or based on what managers said and start to improve. Next time around it’ll be your time to shine!

Being a sore loser in elementary school won’t make you any friends. Being a sore loser in your career could hold you back and prevent you from taking so many other opportunities that come your way. Don’t let sore loser syndrome infect your career! With these helpful tips you’ll be on the road to recovery in no time.