Winner’s Obsession

When I was a student, I enjoyed participating in debating tournaments: The objective of such a tournament is to win a contest by arguing more persuasively than your opponent.

I got so excited, that I started to use my newfound debating skills in my social circles as well.

Very soon, I hardly had any social circle left. Who knew that trying to verbally outsmart people is a disastrous recipe for making friends and influencing people?

Seeing every social interaction as a contest, is called winning too much. It’s a dysfunction which I have noticed often, especially at senior levels.

You typically suffer from winner’s obsession, when:

  • You prefer to ask challenging questions, instead of thinking with and pledging support to your team.
  • You demand more and more (technical) details, until someone has to admit that they don’t know.     
  • You need to have the final word in any conversation.
  • You will never admit that you don’t know.
  • You can’t let go of arguing a subject, until people finally give in and tell you that you’re right.
  • You often use your status to verbally and publicly back lower status people into a corner.

Winner’s obsession and the game of Solitaire have something in common: Both are exceptional at creating very lonely people.

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