I was recently criticized for admitting to cataloging the weaknesses of the people I know, so that when and if I am engaged in a verbal confrontation, I have a means of exploiting their flaws, crushing their spirits and achieving victory. If my opponent is a guilt-ridden procrastinator, for example, I might attempt to highlight this inability to achieve goals in order to degrade his or her self-confidence.
If my opponent is heavily invested in formal etiquette and the perceptions of others, I might remind her of a time when friends and family thought that she was less than polite, and I might even exaggerate their comments in order to knock her off-balance.
If I know that the person does not like public confrontations or is embarrassed easily, I might attempt to draw others (particularly strangers) into the fight, knowing how the appearance of an audience might hinder my opponent.
There are people in my life who lack any discernible weaknesses. My friend, Scott, for example, is one of these people. His naturally self-deprecating nature and his unadulterated self-awareness and acceptance of his own flaws makes him void of any chinks in the armor. He knows who he is, he likes who he is, and he doesn’t care what others think he is. This makes for an unusual and especially formidable opponent.
Thankfully, people like Scott are few and far between. Most people have weaknesses. Plenty of them, in fact.
As a general rule, the more expensive the wardrobe, the greater the weaknesses.
Upon explaining this strategy and my rationale to friends, they found this practice to be less than friendly.
I was actually surprised to find that more people don’t do this. Then it occurred to me that they probably do and aren’t aware of it. They may be less calculating in their process and utilize more socially-acceptable terminology when describing their methods, but I’m willing to bet that everyone engages in strategies like this to one degree or another.
In fact, my methods conform with the suggestions made in this Business Week article.
They just seem far less ruthless.