defeating hubris
June 26, 2005 11:20 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to defeat someone in a competition who already believes that they have won?
posted by alpinist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The same way you would beat anyone else. Can you give us some more specifics about why the opponent's hubris would be a factor in the competition? Or are you trying to find ways to maximize the ego-deflating downfall?
posted by agropyron at 11:23 AM on June 26, 2005

By out-believing the believer. Also, what agropyron said.
posted by forforf at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2005

The problem is that I've run out of advice for my girlfriend who is competing in a scholarship program (that also happens to be a pageant, ugh!). There is one girl she views as her main competition and this girl exudes confidence and acts as though she has already won. It really intimidates my girlfriend, and she's afraid it will affect her performance. She is much better qualified than the other girl, but intimidated none the less. There are only so many times I can say, "Her perceived confidence is a result of her insecurity," or whatever. Any ideas?
posted by alpinist at 11:42 AM on June 26, 2005

Try this advice for baseball pitchers. It's good advice that can apply to anyone who is looking to excel, regardless of the field.
posted by forforf at 11:52 AM on June 26, 2005

Stop thinking about the competition1 and think about the competition2.

In something like this focusing on the performance of another and not the performance of yourself will not help you win. This isn't a game of chess, where you have to outwit your opponent. This is (from the sounds of it) a race where you have to perform to your own best.

(1) the opposition
(2) the event

posted by edd at 12:03 PM on June 26, 2005

Also, from your explanation, the competition sounds more like golf than tennis. In other words, she is not competing directly against someone as much as she is competing against herself . In other words, the other competitors have no direct impact on *her* performance. So she should focus on maximizing her performance, and anything else is a distraction from that.

unless of course this scholarship/pageant involves a caged ring and the tagline ... "only one will leave standing"

on preview ... edd beat me to it (and said it better).
posted by forforf at 12:09 PM on June 26, 2005

"Her perceived confidence is a result of her insecurity..."
That's an exceptionally naive and condescending attitude that may be entirely wrong. This other girl might be the model of humility in day-to-day life. She may simply have been advised, with respect to the competition, "Act as if." And why not? It's good advice.

Odds are good this other girl has a boyfriend, too, who also thinks his gal is the brass ring. That's why there are judges. Frankly, there's something to be said for the utility (if not merit) of a mediocre performer who can "fake it" over someone whose incredible potential folds under pressure. Welcome to the real world. The bottom line is that your girlfriend has to learn, it's not enough just to be good on paper. You've got to bring it.
posted by cribcage at 1:50 PM on June 26, 2005

this seems to be very much a gender thing. in my experience, many women don't like confrontation/direct competition.

i don't think the solution is to try and help her win in the way described above - no-one can change so much in so short a time - but rather provide appropriate support. which seems to involve lots of women getting together and complaining.

so what you might do is arrange some kind of girls-only party where all her friends come round and give her support.

of course, i may be way off-base here (and i'm sure my partner wouldn't call it "complaining"), but that's my confused male understanding of how women seem to work.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:19 PM on June 26, 2005

Well, there is no easy way to gain confidence enough not to be intimidated by someone who appears to already have that confidence. But if your girlfriend is even slightly bothered by the fact that this girl can cow her by merely projecting an attitude of confidence, I would advise her to take that feeling and use it to motivate herself not only to perform her best, but to turn her intimidation into determination. I'm not a beauty pageant kind of girl, but most of my best victories have happened when I was determined not so much to win, but that someone else couldn't make me make myself lose.
posted by rebirtha at 3:09 PM on June 26, 2005

Cribcage- I don't really want to go into details, but trust me, she is far from the model of humility and you would learn that from five minutes of talking to her. It is tempting to post her web address so you can see for youself, but I don't think that's appropriate. Anyway, thank you all for the advice.

On preview- thanks rebirtha, that is very nicely put.
posted by alpinist at 3:14 PM on June 26, 2005

Confidence is part of winning these things. The other girl is simply playing the game the way she should, and your girlfriend should do likewise. It would strange if the girl didn't project supreme confidence.

If you've ever been coached for this sort of thing, that's something they really lay into you - if YOU think you're not good enough, who are the Judges to disagree with you? After all, you know better than they do, and they're aware of this.
Thus, projecting less confidence is telling the judges to pick someone else. Thus projecting absolute confidence is fundamental.

Projecting confidence is the nature of the game. So play the game.

And know that the other girl is also playing the game, ie, her confidence is part of the performance, and does not represent her true evaluation.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:32 PM on June 26, 2005

I want to say, "sweep the leg," but that's just flippant and unhelpful.

If I were to try to be constructive, though, I'd say to remind your girlfriend that she's got your vote, and well, that's one down.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 7:50 PM on June 26, 2005

Have her watch "Pumping Iron" to see how effective her opponents tactics are likely to be if your gf allows them to be.
posted by Four Flavors at 12:38 PM on June 27, 2005

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