Monday, March 12, 2018

Competition

Those who think life is a competition can never be happy. I hate competition of any sort. I think everyone has gifts that should be highlighted and everyone is better at some things than others, but more than likely, no one is better at all things than someone else. You have your own gifts, love them. Others have gifts, applaud them. Competition comes in many forms, from formal competition with awards to arguments between people...

Examples of competition I have heard recently:

  • You color better than I do, so I don't want to color.
  • Oh, you think doing 'X task' is tough? I wouldn't know anything about difficult work.
  • You do everything faster. Why do I bother?
  • You're always right and I'm always wrong. When do I get to be right?

These comments and plenty more like them are defeating. There is no way to get a positive conversation or outcome.

Coloring. How can that be competitive? Colors are beautiful. Everyone has a different eye and mental image. We all have different ideas about shading, highlighting, and how colors work together. For the record, the competitor in question is full of crap. We both color with our own different style, neither one better than the other. If anything, I believe my competitor has a better eye for creative use of highlighting and therefor ends up with a better more interesting finished page.

Life is tough. Everyone is entitled to express that something is difficult or that their back aches. If I say, "I do X task. It's tough, but I get it done," my statement in no way invites a competition from me. If you tell me your back aches and I launch into how mine is definitely worse than yours... Where is the conversation supposed to go? How can you possibly compare pain? If someone says something is difficult or painful, just sympathize and move on. You can complain and get sympathy too. It's no competition.

I do some things quickly because that's just how I've always done it. It probably would be beneficial for me to slow down. Other things, I have more experience and therefor know exactly what effort to place where to do things quick and efficient...  because, ultimately, I'm not that strong. I do not have the muscle power to waste. It's not a competition. If you want to compete is the arena of speed, I will lay down on the ground and forfeit every single time. I am not a competitor. However slow your contribution is, it has still gained us more together than me or you working alone! Therefor, I don't CARE how fast anyone goes!

The last one... seriously?No one is always right and I certainly have never claimed to be. No one is always wrong nor have I ever claimed anyone is. Comments like this have absolutely no positive course. None. Again, life is not a competition or score board of rights and wrongs.

Let's try something different.
You see someone do something better or differently than you can. Instead of saying, "You color better than I do, so I don't want to color," you say:

  • Wow, that's really pretty/amazing/cool/stupendous. 
  • I like how you did XYZ. Can you show me how you did it?
  • I see what you did there, but I'm not sure exactly how to describe it.
And then you continue your own project.

Instead of saying, "Oh, you think doing 'X task' is tough? I wouldn't know anything about difficult work," you say:

  • Ah, that's how I feel about Y task. Glad we get them done.
  • Is there anything we could do to make our tough tasks easier?
  • I'm sorry. I know how you feel. It'll be over soon, thank goodness!

And then you can have a productive conversation or simply move on working on those tough tasks.

Instead of saying, "You do everything faster. Why do I bother?" you could try:

  • You do some things so quickly. I'm impressed.
  • Can you help me with this?
  • I'm feeling slow and defeated at this task. Can we take a break and have a beer?
And then you take some time to thing positive thoughts about the person and positive thoughts about your own abilities. No one is faster at everything, nor should they be.

Instead of saying, "You're always right and I'm always wrong. When do I get to be right?" you could try:

  • I'm sorry.
  • You want to take a break from this argument and go hang out in the swing?
  • I love you.
You see, if you are inclined to say something like, "you're always right and I'm always wrong. When do I get to be right?" you are in a bad headspace where no discussion is going to be a positive one. It's not a true statement in any reality. It's mean, provoking, and unproductive. What you mean to say is something that will reach out and connect, not push away and stab. Arguments are not a competition. Scores should not be kept. There are no winners between partners. Choose kindness, and you should get kindness in return.

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