Communication Challenge – One-upmanship

Two people are talking in the break room.  First person says “wow the traffic was bad.  My drive in today took over an hour”.  Second person says “you think that was bad, my drive nearly hit two hours”.  Well the first person isn’t going to be outdone so they say “you don’t know traffic until you’ve lived in LA.  It used to take me two hours just to drive ten miles in morning traffic”.

When people communicate, do they care more about hearing the another person or being heard?  This one-upmanship conversation suggests that it is more important for people to be heard, and it is a communication challenge continium taking place in the break rooms and hallways of every business.  This game of oneupmanship also reveals that if being heard is more important, then people also care about themselves more than they care about another person, and does this mindset really lend itself to good communication.  If I one-up you, then I want you to hear me, because the truth is, I care about me, and then how does this mindset stifle the truly important communication necessary to move forward on the business issues.

Take time to listen to the casual type of office communication, and notice the ongoing game of one-upmanship, and think to yourself, who is listening to whom.  Be careful however, because the person you catch caring about themselves and doing the one-upping, might be you.