Can you top that?


Humans are an interesting lot. In the animal world the various species have a built in communications system that regulates behavior, such as movement within territories and the proper status of members. Often, the proper interpretation of signals such as these will mean the difference between life and death, in essence, providing pretty good reinforcement of standards. While people are able to live peaceably together most of the time, the sheer volume of differing standards and communication styles can lead to issues the rest of the animal world just doesn’t have to deal with. Take a typical conversation, for instance. One of the keys to a pleasant conversation, i.e. one that does not conclude with any sort of violence, and in which both parties are able to exchange information, is “relatability.” This is a fairly modern word, perhaps made necessary by the world of politics, in which a fast exchange of information which portrays the contender in a positive light is vital. If I relate well to you in a conversation, I’m able to listen to what you say, while also paying attention to non-verbal cues, and then return information given the context you’ve provided. A good conversation is a lot like playing tennis with a friend you’ve known for a long time. There’s no pressure to hit the ball back with force, or put it somewhere hard to reach. The opposite is actually the goal. You just enjoy hitting the ball back and forth. The conversation faux pas (French for “false step”) I want to touch on is commonly referred to as “one-upmanship.” While it is helpful to take in what the other person says and try to relate their experience to one of yours, it is most often frustrating if you actually try to come up with a similar experience that “tops” that of the other person. I hope you haven’t been that person, but more than likely we’ve all done this, whether or not we intended to. Have in the back of your mind when you’re talking to someone that not every conversation has to have a winner and a loser. If you employ this style, you may find those very conversations becoming fewer and fewer.

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