We tend to receive a substantial number of unsolicited recommendations throughout the day. With experience, people learn optimal ways to complete tasks, gather information, and navigate through life in general. Sharing our recommendations with others provides us with a sense of worth and purpose. It shows us that we are useful to the world around us, no matter how small of a part we play. These feelings drive others to jump on opportunities to help those around them in any way they can. You might see someone struggling to hold their grip while dead-lifting in the gym and may recommend they invest in some chalk. Or you may recognize that the person lined up behind you at a grocery check-out only has two items, and recommend they go through the express check-out to save some time. These are two examples of the varying types of recommendations you can receive yourself. These recommendations come to us without fail, and how we react to them can be powerful in how others perceive us.
What One-Upping Recommendations Is
When we do receive these recommendations, we feel pressure to show how much we actually know about the subject at hand. The act of receiving a recommendation can make us feel inadequate in our knowledge. We can be threatened by the recommendation and perceive the one giving it as indirectly showing us that they know more than we do. These feelings sometimes cause us to one-up the recommendations that we receive. The person for whom you recommended to buy some chalk may present a rather empty argument as to why chalk is actually dangerous to breathe in. The person behind you in line may have their own ideas as to why the line they’re in is better than the express check-out line over on the other side. One-ups to the recommendations we receive are seldom factual as much as they are backed by strong opinion.
This article makes the argument that you should never one-up the recommendations you receive.
Do Not Perceive Recommendations As Attacks
The first step to not one-upping the recommendations you receive from others is to perceive all of them as genuine attempts at helping you. The reason why this should be done is because you can never be sure whether or not someone is actually being malicious in their act of recommending something. If you respond by one-upping their recommendation, you may be acting on unsubstantiated feelings and force a pleasant interaction to turn into one of tedious back-and-forth. Accept the recommendations that you receive even if you know more than the other about the subject at hand. You will save yourself from forming a habit of adopting a victim mentality, and may perhaps learn from the seemingly worthless recommendations you receive.
The important thing to note is that one-upping recommendations does not serve to improve you in any way. It serves to stroke your ego of perceiving yourself to be more useful than the other, but doesn’t actually build any concrete skills. It is an empty activity which serves to discredit the advice you receive from another in a mere attempt to preserve image. Getting into a habit of accepting, and being thankful for, the recommendations you receive will get you in the habit of listening fully to the lessons which others teach. It will train you to listen to the full thoughts of others prior to forming your own rebuttals, which is an important part of effective debating skills.
Preserve the Perceived Usefulness of Others
Let’s circle back to the reason people give recommendations in the first place. It is their attempt to show-off their knowledge about a subject as well as to be perceived as useful to those around them. Keep these two goals in mind when you’re listening to the recommendations that others give. It really isn’t about the content of the recommendation. If you totally disagree with what they’re saying, then let it go in one ear and out the other. However, steer away from diminishing their perceived level of helpfulness and knowledge by one-upping their recommendation with a rebuttal to it. Don’t disagree, don’t add onto it, and don’t be hesitant in accepting their advice.
Thank the person giving you a recommendation, accept it fully, and nod in agreement when you actually agree. Allow the person to preserve their feeling of importance and allow others to see how helpful this person is. Play to their ego of wanting to seem knowledgeable about the subject. Doing so will keep them around longer, raise the confidence in others watching to approach you in conversation, and reinforce others’ desires to listen to you when you have a recommendation of your own.
It comes down to the pros and cons of either one-upping a recommendation or accepting it and thanking a person for giving it. When you drill down to the pros and cons as they apply to you, maintaining others’ sense of self-worth is a solid investment you can make. The amount of work you have to put in is also lower – you merely have to listen and give thanks. By one-upping a recommendation, not only to you have to put effort into thinking of a rebuttal, but you don’t gain nearly as much by doing so. It is an investment with negative returns.