I think I have met the most annoying human on earth. This dude drives me insane to the point that it ruins my day. I’ll call him John. I met John three months ago. My best friends and I have been playing in a rec soccer league for five years. This year one of our friends had a baby and decided to drop the league to spend more time with family. We were down a guy and needed a quick replacement. One of my buddies said that a new guy had just moved in next door to him. They had a convo about soccer and he looked athletic. So he asked, and John joined.
Fast forward 12 weeks. My Saturday mornings mean two hours of soccer with my best buds with beer & college football watching to follow. I look forward to it all week. It’s tradition. But John has made that all change. John is the definition of a one-upper. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been skiing in Vail, he has been five times as many. It doesn’t matter if I just got the latest Macbook, John is on some special list for the next release. You get what I’m saying. He’s taken the enjoyment of my Saturdays because of his one-up mentality. Plus, I don’t even believe half of what he is saying. The thing is, he doesn’t do this with the other guys. It’s just me. And they don’t seem to get annoyed by him like I do. Shit, I even hate complaining about it, but he drives me crazy. What do I do? Do I call this one-upper out? Or do I just need to shake it off?
-Annoyed at the New Guy
Dear Annoyed at the New Guy,
You feel angry, frustrated, annoyed. John is stealing your Saturdays and you’re tired of it. It sounds like you’re able to get along with most people in your life and maintain good relationships, but there’s just something about this guy that gets under your skin. His one-upmanship, his skiing prowess, his macbook access.
But, if someone is affecting you differently than everyone else, I would start by looking at…you. What is it about his one upmanship that bothers you? Is it that you have always considered yourself to be the cutting-edge person in your group? Is it really important to you have the newest tech item? If so, you may begin to understand why he really bothers you so much. He is infringing on your territory in the group and it frightens you.
But, if someone is affecting you differently than everyone else, I would start by looking at…you.
But find solace here. You have a great group of friends and it’s pretty amazing that you guys have been able to maintain your soccer league for as long as you have. It can be really challenging to maintain friendships as you get older, and you guys have been able to make that happen for 5 years, a feat within itself.
John is likely going to be there on Saturdays whether he annoys you or not. My guess is that he is not the first human on earth to annoy you and I can also promise that he won’t be the last. So you have a choice. If it’s important enough to you to continue playing soccer and spending time with your friends, find a way to relax about John. He is likely a better guy than you give him credit for and you just may find that you two have more in common than not.
Dear Annoyed at the New Guy,
I think everyone reading your letter can relate to having experienced the one-upper at some point in their lives. It’s the guy at the party who knows everything and has done everything, but better than you. Here’s where I think John fits in. He just moved to a new city and is trying to prove himself. It’s most likely a lack of self-confidence and for some reason you may intimidate him, which is why he responds with these over exaggerated stories. He’s someone who needs to make himself feel better by telling a bigger story. Sometimes it’s worth just letting it go, but because it’s messing up your Saturday afternoon and you foresee it continuing to frustrate you, it may be worth doing something.
He’s someone who needs to make himself feel better by telling a bigger story.
Ask John more about his life before the move. Asking him more personal questions implies that you are interested in getting to know him. Maybe he feels like he needs to strong arm the conversation with bigger or better stories because he wants to share more about his life.
So after he one-ups you, ask him more about the subject matter. Maybe it’s inadvertently calling him out on a bluff, or maybe it leads to a breaking point for you two to bond. If it doesn’t get better, pull him to the side and have a real conversation about how the competitive vibe is making you feel. If worse comes to worst and he is still annoying you, give your bud who is out for the season a call and tell him how excited you are to get him back. A temporary one-upper is much easier to tolerate.