Staying Friendly in Competition

Written by Kayla Delaney

With society and SU elections coming to a close, it’s more important than ever to remember to keep things civil. It’s not a paid job or a once-in-a-lifetime chance. But how can you best keep things calm and collected in the face of friendly rivalry?

Keep positive.

Running for elections can be tough and time-consuming, but win or lose, everyone can take something good from it. The energy and time you pour into running is not wasted if you don’t win – it’s a chance to polish your skills in public speaking, write manifestos, create convincing, goal-oriented strategies, and learn how to form a public image. It’s not a lost opportunity, but a step towards something greater – and, with this practice under your belt, you’ve got a head start.

Never make it personal.

The grand-scale elections often show politicians lashing out at each other, picking apart one another’s personal lives and the skeletons in their closet, and not keeping things friendly at all. But that’s when people run to preside over entire countries and cities – we are a university just outside of London, and many of us are classmates. No election is worth destroying friendships over. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the flow of competition, but remember the rules, keep it civil and professional, and don’t use people’s personal lives against them in the running – often, it will come back to bite you.

Don’t let it consume you.

If running for a position starts to affect you more than it should, then take a step back – if campaigning is too much for you, the role itself will probably be even more tricky. You can always try again another time. If you are getting so invested that you begin to see your rivals as threats rather than peaceful competitors, step back immediately. If you feel threatened by your competitors’ behaviour in particular, make sure to report it to the relevant board of authority, and never stoop to their level – no friendly competition should turn hostile.

Enjoy the experience.

An easy way to sour your experience is to be unfriendly – ruthless, unkind competition is nowhere near as pleasant as a peaceful rivalry. So, feel free to talk to your competition, respectfully and professionally. Regardless of loss or success, if you can come away from it proud and friendly with your rivals, then you’ve done a good job of maintaining friendly competition.

Remember why you are running.

You’re running for a position for a reason. You likely have ideas and plans on how to improve the society and new events that can be implemented. Remember that you’re running for the sake of your society, not for any personal gain. Societies depend on people to run the group, leading with ideas of progress and cohesion, so never forget why you’re running.

It’s never the end of the world.

The outcome of elections is never the be-all and end-all – if you lose, take it on the chin and move on. Regardless of how things go, how you or your rivals choose to compete and interact, and how your society’s future looks, it’s never the worst thing in the world.


The core of friendly competition is that first keyword – ‘friendly’. Civil, impartial, and professional rivalry is necessary for an election – making it a bigger deal often means more drastic consequences, such as making long-term enemies or losing good friendships. No election is worth that.

The more peaceful you are, the more peaceful the result. So don’t get too attached to winning and take the good where you can.

Written by Kayla Delaney, Edited by Paige Tamasi, Photography by GRStocks permission given through the Unsplash License, Published by Paige Tamasi.