We all know or have known someone with the annoying “one-upper” personality trait. You know who I am talking about. If you have a cold, they have had one chronicled in the New England Journal of Medicine. If your kid got his first hit of the little league season, their’s has already been contacted by interested Major League scouts. Why do we tolerate them? Why do we even tell them stories or engage them knowing that the minute we start speaking we can see the wheels of embellishment turning in their head? Their eyes glaze over as if our lips are moving but nothing is coming out. Unable to wait long enough, they usually just cut us off mid-sentence to tell the story of of their importance to the universe. We, the non-one-uppers, tolerate them because we feel bad for them. We inherently know that no matter how aggravating or how rude their actions are, they are the actions of a very insecure person. So we ignore them, we avoid them, or we just let them finish and then we move on to something productive.
In our personal lives, we know these people will never be true friends we can confide in and seek counsel from, but in our professional lives, the problem is bigger. Are we doing a disservice to our organizations when we tolerate coworkers who are one-uppers in the workplace. Do you want your organization’s one uppers being on the front line with new sales opportunities or speaking to new recruits? Think about how you tolerate them then dismiss them. Think about how you feel when you know they aren’t listening to you. Your clients or potential employees are doing the same thing and feeling the same way. Can your organization afford to lose business or talent when the hunt for both is as competitive as its ever been? You can’t. So do yourself, your company and your coworkers a favor next time Mr. one-upper strikes. Be honest! With some level of empathy to their insecurity, you can honestly fill them in on the effect of their one-upmanship and that they should be confident enough in themselves not to resort to such behavior. If you are too squeamish about a confrontation like that, feel free to take the passive-aggressive approach and share this post with them 🙂