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Of One-Uppers And Down-Turners

September 13, 2010 fm

The other day I witnessed a conversation between my 3 year-old son and his kidergarten friend. The latter showed my little one some mosquito bites. And then happened the unthinkable. My son replied to him “Yo tengo más, mira…”

I have more, look… Oh no, unimaginable – my son is a one-upper! It seems as if we all carry the one-upper gene. Given his three years little Álvaro is excused. For us adults on the other hand there is no excuse. From a communicational point of view one-upping is an absolute no go.

According to www.urbandictionary.com a one-upper is someone who always has to be bigger or better than you. If your uncle has 20 ft. boat, his uncle or cousin has 21 ft. boat. A one-upper never loses in the world of story-telling.

“How was your holiday?” – “Oh, fine, we went to spend a week in Provence with the family.” – “Really? I also went to France. We went sailing in St. Tropez. Partying with Paris Hilton!” Followed by this superior laughter.

A great communicator would answer differently. S/he would say: “Oh, how beautiful. I love France, have been there myself. Where were you exactly – Avignon?”

The perception you create then is not I am better than you! but that of being interested in your conversational partner, searching for common ground.

Next time you spot a one-upper, remember this blog post and smile. When the other person asks you, “What’s going on?” just answer, “Nothing!”

The “twin brother” of the one-upper is the down-turner.

You are at a wedding – in the best case it is your own party. Everything works just fine. Your guests have a great time when this acquainted of your now wife comes over and tells you: “I really like the DJ. I was at a wedding last month where they had a live band. That was even better!”

Your mood goes down from 120º to 0º in an instant. Even if it were true, does he really have to say it?

Or imagine you were having a great seafood dinner. You take out your friends to this renowned place in Milan. Three of you acknowledge that these must be among the best clam shells you’ve ever had. But of course there is a down-turner in your group. He will say: “I once had clam shells in Corsica – they were even better!”

Why do people have to say it? What is the benefit other than making someone feel bad?

I can directly influence the education of little Álvaro. I will teach him to avoid this communicational quick sand. I recommend you, even if you have to bite your tongue sometimes, avoid one-uppers and down-turners! You need them like a hole in the head.

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