From the Mailbag:
I have a coworker who is constantly trying to one up me
even though I’m his superior.
I’ve tried to keep the situation under control but I’m starting
to lose it.
This is doing a number to my hormones and my confidence.
What can I do?
In 2009 researchers from Duke and Harvard Universities
took two male chimpanzees…
Placed them into an enclosure together….
Then put some tasty monkey food right in front of them.
But they left the food just out of their reach…
So these apes had plenty of time to think about what
was coming next….
Male on Male Competition – For Food.
And if chimpanzees are anything, they’re aggressive.
(Photo By wordman1)
They’re also a male dominated society.
So the hormones we’re probably going to be flying
during this experiment, right?
You bet they were…
Before and after tests confirmed that T levels in both
animals swung straight thru the roof.
Human males placed in a competitive environment react
just like chimps do…
They respond hormonally to threats. Display aggressive
Do whatever it takes to come out on top.
So here’s what you should take from this Leif…
Competition is going to happen in your life. You can’t
So don’t ever shy away from it. Embrace it.
Unless you enjoy losing, that is.
Which brings me to my next pair of Monkeys…
In the back room behind the chimps the scientists had
two more primates….
Chimpanzee’s smaller cousins, often referred to as pygmy
(Photo by Orlando Dus)
But it’s not just size that makes these ape’s different.
They’re much less aggressive than chimps. And their
society is female dominated.
So things are way more chill with these little guys.
And our next monkey test demonstrated this…
When bonobos were given the exact same food
challenge as the chimps…
Their testosterone levels didn’t budge one bit.
But cortisol did.
Because they chose not to compete for the spoils…
The spoils being food in the bonobos case. And
corporate survival in yours.
Which teaches up something important…
Cortisol in the right amount. At the right time can
be a really good thing.
Say you were doing yoga…
Walking on the beach. Drinking lemonade in a
These would be good cortisol days….
But in a competitive corporate environment?
Where chimpanzee behavior is all you’ll ever see…
High cortisol would be absolutely lethal.
See what I’m saying Lief?
Victoria Wobber, Brian Hare, Jean Maboto, Susan Lipson,
Richard Wrangham , and Peter T. Ellison