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5 Tips to Stop Yourself from One-Upping Others in Conversation

by Amanda on September 14, 2009
category: Humor/Random,Inspiration,Practical Tips

Yesterday Dawn wrote a great post about controlling our tongues. Unbeknownst to Dawn I have had in my drafts a little post about One-Upping in conversation. I think this would be a nice companion piece to continue the topic of choosing our words wisely.

Whether knowingly or not we have all probably told a one-upping story in conversation, on Facebook, on blogs, or on Twitter. One-upping is easily done when mothers are talking about their kids’ accomplishments. Let’s take Susan and Amber as an example. Susan shares with Amber that her baby started crawling when he was 8 months old. Then, Amber immediately replies that her baby started crawling at 6 months! Amber may honestly be sharing her own experience, but it comes across as One-Upping. The best response would be to be excited for Susan. If Susan wants to know when Amber’s child started crawling, then let her ask.

One-upping can be hurtful or make another mother feel like a bad mom. All too often we jump right into sharing our own stories, experience, and accomplishments after someone shares about their own experience. Let’s be excited for one another without trying to one-up each other! Each mama has a different experience with each child. Sometimes there is no point in comparing our kids. Let’s celebrate each others’ accomplishments, not compete with each other.

Here are 5 ways to stop ourselves from one-upping in conversation.

1. Make a mental note to be aware that you may be one-upping and make an effort to stop!

2. Listen to what is being said without thinking about what you are going to say next  while they are talking.

3. Be slow to speak. Choose your words wisely.

4. Make a point to express your happiness for your friends after they share an experience.

5. Don’t share an anecdote of your own child unless you are asked.

Penelope is a hilarious character on Saturday Night Live who one-ups everyone. She cracks me up.  Here is a funny Penelope skit, plus it has Amy Adams. (Hulu puts an ad in front of the video, but hey, its free!)

Have you ever found yourself one-upping in conversation? Do you know anyone that is a one-upper? Does it make you want to share with them?

7 Responses to 5 Tips to Stop Yourself from One-Upping Others in Conversation

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Stephanie
    September 15, 2009 @ 7:41 am

    I loved this post because I struggled with this, and still find myself one upping. I’ve noticed it alot after my little man was born. (During pregnancy too) Other moms would make a comment about their child or their pregnancy and I would always interject and say something about mine. For example, someone would tell me about how they are having such a hard time with their pregnancy and I would go on about my experience as well. After I realized this, I thought about it and got so embarrassed with myself. I need to let people make their statement and accept it and not feel like I have to share my thoughts too.
    I try hard to let the other person talk without feeling like I need to say something, and I still catch myself doing it.
    I knew someone that I worked with who was a big time one upper. I mean everything from me telling her I needed off to go to a prenatal appointment and she would say she never went that often, to me telling her I needed iron supplements and she would say she needed them, too and that it didn’t make her stomach hurt so she didn’t know why mine did, to her simply asking me how much my son weighed at birth and she came back saying, “oh, mine only weighed 2 ounces more than that”. That is probably when I realized what I was doing and how annoying it is! So, I appreciate this post and will definitely take it to heart!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Natalie
    September 15, 2009 @ 10:48 am

    This is sooooo good. I have thought about this many times myself. Thanks, Amanda!

  • Comment by Amanda
    September 15, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

    @Stephanie – That is crazy about the co-worker. Some people are prone to do it more. And you are right, it IS annoying. I have even thought about this with us, because our boys are 4 hours apart. It would be super easy for us to compare, be jealous, be prideful, or whatever. But the fact is that each kid and mom does things so differently. As long as our kids are healthy and doing great, it doesn’t matter! :)

    @Natalie – Thanks. :) I always appreciate your comments!

  • Gravatar September 16, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    Thanks for reminding us to watch our tongues. Slow to speak and quick to listen! Always need to be reminded of these things!

  • Comment by Sharon
    September 17, 2009 @ 1:10 am

    I think it’s important to remember that conversing without one-upping is a learned habit, and it’ll probably take a good deal of practice (and some mistakes) before someone gets the hang of it. Another topic for another time: How do you deal with this situation if you’re on the receiving end? Similar to what Stephanie mentioned about her former co-worker. Do we approach them, and if so, what is a tactful way to do it? Or, do we just ignore it? It probably depends on your relationship with the person in question, but I’m interested to hear y’alls thoughts.

  • Comment by Amanda
    September 18, 2009 @ 6:41 am

    @Sharon – I agree, it is probably a learned habit with some people. I don’t think I do it regularly, but I have noticed that I unknowingly jump into talking about my kid when someone is talking about theirs and I have sense of pride when my kid has already done something the other’s hadn’t. So I decided that I should just be careful when I am talking about their kids and my own kids.

    As to your other question – I think it definitely depends on the friendship. My situation was with a boss. She is definitely Penelope from this skit. I could not say one thing without being one-upped. So I quit talking about myself. When she came around I turned all the focus on her life. This worked for me. If its a problem with a close friend that you want to keep, then I think it could be talked about.

  • Comment by Dawn
    September 18, 2009 @ 8:54 am

    I agree with Amanda; one of my one-upping friends was driving me crazy, but I really loved her a lot, and knew I had to confront her. We had a heart to heart and it was REALLY hard to share about how her actions were affecting me – but she heard me, apologized, and changed her behavior. Talking it out with people is really the best way to go but it requires a lot of effort and faith in the other person.

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