Attempting to discredit competition is a sign of weakness on your part.

Why You Shouldn’t Aim to Discredit Competition

In much of what you decide to become skilled in, you’ll experience competitive feelings toward others who are practicing the same skills you are. Whether you are working on becoming a better salesman, or a better javelin thrower, developing a skill often leads to being compared to others. If you choose not to compare yourself to others, the ones around you will. People’s desire to establish hierarchy is a powerful behavioral force. In order to be considered skilled in whatever domain you’ve dedicated your time to, be prepared to compete.

In the face of competition, there is a tendency for people to not only try to combat their competitors’ efforts, but also to discredit them. We feel a desire to downplay the achievements of our competitors in order to make ourselves be perceived as more skilled. This article proposes the argument against discrediting your competitors in any fashion. Attempting to discredit others is a behavior which isn’t conducive to developing a perception of being skillful in your domain and secure with the skills you possess. Focusing your efforts on downplaying your competitors’ achievements and skills will serve to benefit them rather than propel yourself toward increased success.

Sensitivity to Weakness

It is a sign of weakness to discredit your competitors’ efforts partly because it does not serve to build onto your own skill set. Doing so is evidence to you being distracted from building your own expertise and focusing on performing against those who compete against you. Attempting to discredit your competitors serves to entice those who watch from the sidelines to be interested in your competition’s performance. You’ll be diverting your focus away from the competition should you focus on discrediting the skills of those who compete against you. Those who listen will be interested in what about your competitors caused you to divert your focus. They will follow your critiques and check their validity for themselves. You will direct ears and eyeballs onto your competitors, and possibly bring them new fans.

Audiences are sensitive to weakness. Attempting to win by discrediting others with your words can be interpreted as a principal sign of defeat. People will perceive you to be unconfident. They will interpret you as taking an easier route in an attempt to win, and even though your words may be true, they will not hold the power you hope they do.

Any fans of your work or skill set will feel a sort of shame whilst listening to you make excuses for the success of your competitors. The act of doing so shows a lack of confidence in your own skills, and it’ll be difficult for any followers of your work to defend your words. It will be difficult to find people who back your sentiment, especially those whose opinion matters. You may thereby find yourself being alone in your attempt to discredit your competitors – which serves to weaken your argument even more.

Know Their Shortcomings and Expose Them via Action

The desire to discredit our opponents through argument and fact stems from figuring out their weaknesses. We want to expose what we perceive to be our opponents’ weaknesses. This is a natural and competitively healthy desire. However, the way you go about exposing your opponents’ weaknesses is important to consider. As mentioned earlier, you want to veer away from doing so verbally through persuasive argumentation. Do not publicize other’s weaknesses to an audience you hope to convert to be your followers. If you are confident in your analysis of your opponent’s weakness, then you should figure out ways to expose it within the competitive boundaries you find yourself in.

Turning your opponents’ weaknesses into your own strengths will not be done by attempts to discredit their skills. Rather, it will be done through strategic adjustments of your own performance. Become skilled in what your opponents are weak in, and do not try to publicize their shortcomings. Plan to expose whatever you find undesirable about your opponents in the heat of battle instead. Doing so will show confidence in your analysis of your opponents, it will maintain your focus on your own performance rather than theirs, and prevent you from seeming weak-minded to anyone who places their belief in you to be successful.

For Example:

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a professional MMA fighter. The martial arts domain is one of the purest forms of competition one can participate in, thereby illustrating the concepts at hand clearly. Should you be matched to fight an opponent within the next month, you’ll have time to analyze their skills, weaknesses, and formulate your own path to victory. Following the argument set above, your act of analyzing their weaknesses should motivate you to train specifically to expose them. You’d feel a desire to voice the weaknesses you perceive your opponent to have in an effort to get those who’ll be watching to cheer for you on the night. However, your act of voicing your discoveries will not do much to change the outcome of the competition itself.

Apart from the chance of affecting their focus and confidence, focusing on discrediting their skills will serve to take your focus away from what you need to do in the meantime. The attention will shift to your opponent, and your act of discrediting their skills may be perceived as weak behavior on your part. You set yourself up for a chance to be proven wrong on the night of the fight, which will look worse than merely losing should you have gone into the fight without trying to discredit your opponent prior.

Book Recommendation: 

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors

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