April 8, 2011

The One-Upper

I'm sure you've been there. You had one of those experiences where you thought, "I have to be on hidden camera". One of those ridiculous, "No one could make this stuff up" stories. And when it happens, you know at some point this story is going to have to be told. It's your civic duty - moral responsibility - to allow your misfortune to be everyone else's entertainment. And finally - maybe at a party, at church that weekend, at the office the next week in the break room - the moment presents itself. It's time to share your tragic turn of events with the rest of the world. You gracefully and eloquently provide just the right details, watching with sensational satisfaction as they wipe away the tears brought on by the convulsive laughter you've provoked. This is your moment. The light is shining on your face. It was all worth it now. Embrace your destiny, you magic storyteller! Nothing can take this glorious feeling away from you now. Except.......

Bill. There he is. Standing behind the mass crowd of mesmerized onlookers. They're listening on pins and needles. But not Bill. He's waiting. Just waiting. Waiting on you to finally run out of air. Waiting for your ridiculous story to finally come to an anticipated ending. Just waiting....so he can finally leap from on high, pouncing on the unexpected crowd (and on your shining moment) to make sure that everyone knows that your story - your traumatic tale - while as captivating and awe-inspiring as it might have seemed - is a mere nursery rhyme compared to the Tale of Two Cities that he's about to share. Sit back everyone. Get ready for a REAL story!

The One-Upper. Do you know him? Or maybe for you, it's a her. You're talking. From the naked, uneducated eye they appear to be listening. But no. They really have no grasp of what "listening" really means. What they're doing is waiting on you to shut your pie hole so they can tell you how their's is one better than yours. You fell down some stairs? "Big deal! I fell off a mountain!" You had a piece of shrapnel stuck in your leg in Vietnam? Seriously? "Well, that would be something...except that I had an arrow shot straight through my skull and pulled it out myself!" They've always got one better. Your story - your once-in-a-lifetime, "You should have seen this!" experience - just fell short. The One-Uppers are always lurking. My favorite comedian Brian Regan refers to it as the "Me Monster". And when you least expect it, they'll parachute in, rain on your parade, and put out your fire. Beware.

Do you listen to people? Or do you just wait for them to finally SHUT UP so you can tell them what they don't know and desperately need to hear?
If you value people, you will learn to listen.
If you value people, you will value what they have to say.
And if you don't, you very well may be the One-Upper in the room. Beware.

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