“Hey dude! I just bought a new iPad. Look! Cool, na?”
“Yeah its cool. But did you see my new car that I just bought! You should come with me for a drive someday. The drive is so smooth and the mileage is amazing!”
How many times have you faced this? A lot, presumably. This simple dialogue can sum up the concept of ‘One-upping’. Trying to always show that you have done something better than someone else, sub-consciously or consciously. Whenever someone does this, it feels that the person doing this is trying to show the other person that ‘Who is the boss?’ in their conversation.
What is it?
In simple terms, whatever you do, someone else will come into the equation and show to you that they have done better than you. For that person, it seems like a game that s/he has to win. Even though, no one else is playing with them, it feels that constant sense of being ‘one-up’ that drives them.
This can be okay in a friendly or a personal setting where people are generally having fun. Like playing a game of “Have you ever?” or having a friendly chat about what is the grossest thing someone has done.
But it starts to create a rift and tensions when people start doing in it situations which require some level of empathy. It then starts becoming annoying for some people and may even turn out to be branded as a toxic person in someone’s eyes.
The forms of one-upping
You can see multiple forms of one-upping in every facet of your life. Its not just that people try to glorify themselves when you share a happy moment with them. They can also one-up you during your problems. Like you may have had a bad day at office. The ‘one-up’ person might say to you that they lost a big project too, today.
Many a times, it feels that it is their inner child that is pushing them towards more acceptance or loved or just simply to be listened to. They may not realize that this form of behavior just adds the fuel to the fire named toxicity, in their personality.
Sometimes, unknowingly, even you might do this. You may say something in an innocent way in your head. But the person in front of you might feel that you are ‘one-upping’ and this creates easy friction. Try to always have an instant check on how someone might think about whatever you will say. It can save a lot of misunderstanding and unnecessary increase in toxicity.
So how to counter this?
Honestly, sometimes a simple ignoring can also help. Not always do we have to jump into a dialogue with someone who only wants a monologue with you. It helps you keep your mental peace and it may help the other person to realize that what they said may have been wrong.
Another thing that can be done is that you have a sit down with this person and tell them about this ‘one-upping’ they are doing. Make them understand that this simple dialogue isn’t a competition that you are trying to bring up. Rather its just something that you wanted to discuss it with them because you felt comfortable in discussing with you. Calling it out can make them understand this behavior and help in pro-actively trying to not let it come up.
Lastly, like mentioned above, always keep that check handy. Make it a habit to understand what your words might do for a person sitting on the other side. Competition is healthy. But creating unnecessary competition on even the smallest of dialogues creates hindrance in a relationship.
All of these things help in controlling that behavior. One-upping is a toxic trait, if used in an environment other than friendly banter. It can cause undue damage in any dialogue, increase toxicity and eventually lead to 2 people not even talking to each other. Identifying it is important and then not doing it is of further importance. Being empathetic to a person’s feelings can help in understanding that person better and developing a strong bond with that person. Sometimes, just being there in someone’s success or sorrow can go a long way.