Joe Tuson

Joe Tuson

Executive Coach

© 2020

Gamesmanship

From Edgar Schein’s outstanding book Humble Inquiry

We still live in a culture of what Stephen Potter so eloquently described in the 1950s as gamesmanship and one-upmanship. These were the two titles that best characterized what Potter saw to be the main characteristic of relationships in the Western world. It was British humor at its best, but it was a much deeper commentary on how Western culture values competition, even in conversation. Potter notes that there are several ways to gain points in competitive conversation: making a smart remark, putting down someone who has claimed too much, and turning a clever phrase even if it embarrasses someone else in the conversation. We compete on who can tell the most—the most interesting story, the most outrageous adventure, the best joke, or the best movie they saw.

I’ve always assumed social media created the sound bite/clever-put-down culture.

Appetite for competitive conversation has always been there. Social media has just exposed or amplified existing behavior.