We all know someone who seems compelled to ruin any and every conversation. I call them the one-uppers. Regardless of your experience, they feel compelled to one-up every single one. They can effortlessly make every statement, story, situation and conversation about them. To the one-uppers, how about you shut-upper.
The art of listening to each other seems to be on the decline and for the one-up folks, it’s a completely lost art. Sometimes I refer to these people as “Sprinkles” or “Cherry” because they insist on being on top of the sundae.
Recently, a particularly annoying species of Sprinkles has emerged-–the “I worked 80 hours this week” specimen. You know the type. You make a simple statement such as “I’m exhausted” only to have them say, “Oh, well l’ve worked 86 hours and slept 14 minutes this week.” Do these people want a trophy or something? When did these become desirable traits?
The number of hours you clock in at work doesn’t define your worth. You are not more valuable to society because you prioritize work over everything else. There are plenty of people who are working 30-40 a week while also tending to children and family, or volunteering at schools and civic organizations. People are doing many things outside of the time clock that are important to them, and that’s OK! You should never be made to feel less than for prioritizing yourself and your family over your employer.
If someone tells you they are tired or stressed out and your next move is to compare and compete-–you might be a one-upper. Next time, give this response a try: “I’ve noticed you have been doing a lot lately. Is there anything I can help you with?” If you are tired too, sympathize, don’t patronize. There is a good chance that the stress many people are under has already been made worse by those who previously failed to care.
Another type of one-upper is the classic “well, my child” type. Sit down Sprinkles! One moment when my average child is recognized will not diminish your kid’s achievements that we have applauded at every assembly for 12 years. We can be proud of kids other than our own.
Teach your kids to applaud other winners and stop telling them the outcome was unfair or that they should have won instead. This could be the first step in making sure we prevent generational one-upping. Stop the cycle of thinking that they too must be the sprinkles on top of the sundae.
Perhaps the most classic type is the “I got a story better than yours” party–poopers. There was a character named “Penelope” played by Kristin Wiig several years ago that addressed this type. Penelope ruined every meeting, holiday gathering and social event she attended by habitually one-upping everybody in the room. Funny in a comedy skit-–horrible in real life.
One-uppers come in many forms and types. I’m not sure what drives their need to feel like the tallest and most interesting person in the room. I don’t know why they feel as though outdoing everyone is an impressive quality. I would simply tell them this– we are all juggling many balls. Some of those balls are invisible to others. There is really no point in trying to out–juggle the person next to you. Be kind. It should never be a competition.
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