Have you ever heard someone speak about a topic they really didn’t know much about, but they did their best to sound as though they were an expert? How about guys in the locker room, trading “tales” of their many sexual conquests? Have you ever heard a “bully” (be it on the playground or in the boardroom) picking on someone who is weaker than them? Or a group of females (age irrelevant) excluding another female because she is different?
Why do you suppose people do this?
I have witnessed, experienced, and even participated in many situations where people have spoken and acted in a dominant and aggressive fashion, not because they were stronger and tougher, but because they actually believed (and were fearful) that they were not.
The Classic Case of the One-Upper
We all know someone who is a “one-upper”. A “one-upper” is a person who, no matter what someone else says or does, has said something smarter or has done something better. For example, you mention that you just got a promotion at work and the one-upper says they also got a promotion AND a new office! You got a new car? The one-upper did too, but theirs’ is faster and shinier and cost more!
Never satisfied to simply congratulate or recognize the accomplishments, knowledge, or good fortune of other people, the one-upper always has to get the last word in. The question is “why?”
Most people think that the one-upper is an egotistic, arrogant, conceited jerk who thinks that they’re better than everyone else. The fact is, that couldn’t be farther from the truth…
The one-upper is actually very self-conscious and insecure about themselves and their self-worth. But, in an attempt to make others think highly of them, they try to impress people by promoting themselves through the practice of one-upmanship. Thus, they speak out of their insecurity.
The Ladies Man
The same goes for the supposed “ladies man” who embellishes stories about all the women he’s been with. Think about it: Would a REAL ladies man want everyone to know that he was going out with a lot of different women? Wouldn’t that ruin his scheme if all the ladies knew they were just one of many? That said, no REAL ladies man would brag to everyone about his conquests for fear of jeopardizing his future conquests. And thus, all that locker room talk is nothing more than speech stemming directly from insecurity.
Lastly, when a group of females exclude someone, it’s because being in an exclusive group makes them feel important and included and thus strokes (calms) all the insecurities they have about themselves (which I’ve learned are wide-ranging and abundant). Knowing this, why would anyone want to be associated with this type of group?
So, the next time you encounter (or are) an unqualified expert, ladies man, one-upper, or excluder, take a second and evaluate their real motivation: Do they really believe in what they are saying and doing, or are they simply speaking out of their insecurities? If their speech does in fact come from insecurity, your approach towards them needs to change. Understand that they see you (and probably everyone else) as a rival, threat, or superior whom they are trying to impress and prove themselves to. They are seeking your approval, in which case you have the upper hand. If they are a friend (yourself included), reassure them of how valuable they are and of how much they are appreciated. And if they are a rival, well, act accordingly.