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Don’t Be a “One-Upper”

Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with one or more people sharing stories? Have you ever noticed the “one upper” in the group who appears to always feel the need to tell a story that is more dramatic than the one just told, or make a statement that immediately takes the positive attention off another? Are you, or have you ever been, the “one-upper”?

When you finish telling a story or explaining a situation you were in, and the person you are talking to responds with “Oh yeah, well listen to this...!” Basically, what they are telling you is that your story means nothing to them because they have a better one. When someone tells you something of significance to them, all they want is a sympathetic ear and to know that they have been heard. Even if you have a more dramatic story, use tact.

Here are some examples of a person named Pat being “one-upped” in both personal and business situations. Imagine yourself being Pat. How would you feel?

Pat: Hey guys, I just found out that the boss chose my team to lead that big project!
One-upper: Yeah? Well, my team just won an award for the best ad campaign!

Pat: The other day I bought these shoes on sale for just $30!
One-upper: I bought the same pair two weeks ago on-line for $20.

Pat: When I was a kid, I fell 20 feet from a tree and broke my leg in two places.
One-upper: I fell out of a tree as well but broke both legs and an arm!

Here are a couple of quick suggestions regarding “one-upping”:

  1. Decide if your story will help the listener. For example, if your friend just told you that she got in a car accident and dented the door, just to get it off her chest, the best response may be “I am sorry to hear that. I am glad that you are not hurt... doors can always be fixed, but people always can’t.” However, if that same person told you this following it up with “I don’t know what I am going to do,” then it may be appropriate to tell her about the time you got in an accident and how you handled the situation. Bottom line—does your story benefit the listener or just you?
  2. If you are among friends and you truly have a story more fascinating than the one just told that you feel you must share, lead into it gracefully. You can do this by first making a statement reflecting on the story just told, asking questions, or at least waiting a few moments before jumping right in. If at all possible, wait for another time to tell your story—let the person who just told the story have their moment of glory.

The key is to be a good listener while having consideration for the other person’s feelings. Don’t be like a twelve-year-old at camp who begins every sentence with “Oh yeah? Well, wait until you hear this...” Use tact in your personal and business communications and try not to “one-up” anyone.


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 Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):

  • Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
  • Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
  • What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)
    From the Course:
    Personal Development
    Year To Success
    Bo Bennett, PhD

    (1 ratings)
    Personal Development : Personal Transformation
    Offered by BooksToCourses.com
    $19.95 FREE
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