How to Handle Those Who Are Protective of What They’re Good At

Becoming skilled in a particular craft is a tiresome journey.

As we try to improve our skills in any field that we pursue, we become victims of doubt from ourselves and others watching on. Moving past the insufficient levels of support and competitive anxiety (among other challenges) toward becoming skilled in a particular domain entices people to be protective of the ranking they achieve within it. Ranking can mean having numerous rental properties to earn a healthy income, or becoming a skilled billiards player.

Have you ever tried to challenge – directly or indirectly – someone in the craft they’ve chosen to become skilled in? People who are challenged in the things they perceive themselves to be good at become competitive and vengeful. If you were to take the spotlight from anybody in their craft, then you would serve to draw a target on your own back in their eyes. Those who take their craft and skill seriously, will naturally feel competitive urges if you were to become skilled in the very same domain.

The friend who’s a great billiards player will one day turn from mentor to competitor should you inch closer to their level of skill. The person who taught you everything you know about real estate will begin to view you as a reminder of their own situational shortcomings in the field, as you begin to see more success than they do. The relationships you have with those you compete against fall by the wayside as the stakes increase and the difference in skill between yourself and them becomes marginal.


A Child They Protect

Be wary of competing with people in a craft that they’re known to obsess over and love. For instance, showing videos of your singing skills to a group of people in which one of them is an aspiring singer, can give birth to competitive tension. Another example would be showing off your knowledge surrounding a particular scientific field to a group of friends when one of those friends is pursuing a graduate degree in that very field. The person whose chosen craft you attempt to take part in may feel that you are undeservedly taking the spotlight, and thereby weakening their identity of being skilled in that craft. Their self worth may be connected to the domain in which you’re attempting to become skilled in, and even though you’re absolutely free to partake in that domain, the emotional responses from those who are already skilled in that domain is something you’d have to navigate.

The rule of thumb of never doing business with members of your immediate family is built on these attempts to safely navigate competitive realms. Your friends and family take pride in the field of business in which they partake. Once you grow to become skilled at the craft they identify themselves with, competitive feelings grow. Once you pass them in skill level, you naturally become a target for them to overtake. Be conscious of who takes pride in which behaviors, and be wary of their growing jealousy as you try out those behaviors for yourself. It is difficult to manage the devotion that people show to their chosen crafts, therefore you should be careful in the manner in which you partake and become skilled in those same domains.


Keeping Competitive Feelings Down

Once you make a decision to pursue a field or domain in which those who are close to you are also skilled in, you’d need to protect your relationship with them from the wrath of competition. If you care for being close friends with people who may see you as a threat to them identifying with a certain skill set, your job will be to keep competitive feelings low.

There are three things you can do to make these people feel as if you’re not being a threat to their devotion to a specific domain:

  1. First, it doesn’t hurt to communicate your plans in partaking in the same field of work / skill / sport / business with them. Play to their pride in being an authority in that specific domain by telling them that you see them as a motivation, and that they play a large role in your interest to pursue becoming skilled in the same things as them. Tell them your plans to do the same things they are so good at. It’ll be unlikely that they tell you about any negative feelings they have of such a revelation. They’ll likely be supportive, and will probably tell you to go for it. They will see you as an nonthreatening beginner in the field, thereby being a safe person to encourage.
  2. The second thing to remember is to strive to label yourself the student and them the teacher. If you can place your feelings of pride surrounding those labels aside, labeling those you don’t want resenting your success as your teachers is effective because that label comes with a responsibility to be loyal and helpful. They’ll feel a sense of pride in being someone who you come to for advice. Even if you begin overtaking them in skill, come to them for insight, make them feel knowledgeable about the subject at hand, and ensure they feel that you respect them as someone who is at least on common ground.
  3. The third thing to attempt, is to communicate about the specific field you’ve chosen to pursue as if you two are a team within it. Even if the field is individual by nature, such as a combat sport, strive to improve their skill set too. Team up with them, go for runs together, share tips and training methods, and be charitable with the lessons that you learn along the way. Allow them to perceive your act of partaking in the same domain, which they hold pride in, as being beneficial for them too. Rather than seeing you as a threat, entice them to see you as someone who aims to improve their skills too. Make the fact of you trying out the same things that they’re skilled in as a good thing for their growth by honestly attempting to help them in the process.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.