Monday, April 11, 2011

The “Fine” Art of One-Upping the Other Guy

The world is full of those people who, no matter what you’ve accomplished, have already done it and/or have done it better. One or two of these instances are generally overlooked, and it’s likely the person has no idea they’re doing it. But when it gets to the point when you can’t even have a conversation without feeling like nothing you do is good enough, it generally leads to a loss of communication, distance, and sometimes the end of friendship.

This trend is bad enough in real life, but I’ve noticed it online quite a bit recently, and while none of it is directed at me, I still find it annoying. Even if the offenders don’t actually mean anything by it, the only thing I read in their backhanded compliments is that they can’t stand that someone else might have done something better.

We all have our moments where we want recognition for what we did. I get in these moods where I’m all “Read my awesome writing because I’m awesome” (even though I know I’m not really all that awesome), and I like being recognized if I’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty to do something cool. But I can also congratulate others and share in their good news without having to feel the need to defend my place at the top of the –insert achievement here- dogpile.

Some people are raised different and to give them the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure they don’t realize they’re doing it. That's beside the point, however, when they’re coming across as self-absorbed and clueless.

There are certain times when it’s okay to bring your own story into the mix. In many friendly conversations I’ve had, the talk turns to a “you did this and I did this” discussion, but it’s rare that there’s any hostility or obvious attention whoring. Personal stories are a key in being empathetic to others. It’s not the “outdo” game, but a way to connect with someone else to let them know that you know how they feel.

Next time you feel yourself drawing someone else’s victory or accomplishment towards yourself, try to refrain and insert a simple “nice job” instead.

Final thought: If I tend to do this, I hope some of my readers will let me know. It’s always easier to note the annoying habits of others without seeing one’s own.

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