How do I deal with a friend who is always one-upping every story?

Dear Gwyn,

I have a childhood friend with whom I’ve recently reacquainted. I love catching up with her and remembering our adventures as kids. Over the years though she’s developed the habit of out-doing everyone.  We can’t even share a story about our vegetable gardens without her talking about how her vegetable garden is even bigger and better.  I would love to keep her in my life, but these stories are driving me nuts!

Some of the best people are ruined by their habit of being a one-upper. Shame, shame. Why can’t we all value each other’s accomplishments without becoming competitive? Well we won’t go into the reasons behind this dreadful habit, but in an attempt to save your rekindled friendship, a few words of advice.

  • Acknowledge the Importance of Both Experiences:  When your friend attempts to “one-up” you or your story, take the higher ground and validate both stories, putting you back on level playing ground.  Responding with “It sounds like we both have enjoyed the fruits of our labors” acknowledges your experiences without promoting one over the other.
  • Let Your Friend Exhaust from Talking: When a friend can’t get a hint about sharing the conversation, begin by keeping her talking from the beginning. This will help her to get all of her chattiness out and it might just be overwhelming enough that she clues into how much more enjoyable the conversation is when both parties are listening and contributing.

The goal is less about changing your friend and more about setting an example of what you deem is an engaging conversation. If you continue to find yourself frustrated at the end of your time together perhaps going to a show and letting the performers do all the talking is the next best option!