Learning How To Lose

Losing and winning

My 5-year-old is just learning the rules of card game Uno and it’s exposed a flaw in his behaviour; one that even adults suffer from and something that is crucial for us to control to be successful.

I already play Uno with my 9-year-old. It’s a game that comes with us on almost every holiday and restaurant visit, when I know the kids need to be distracted from their “hanger”. (I have even found a great eco bag to store the deck in so that it fits nicely in any handbag or pocket).

However, it appears that our children haven’t quite learnt how to be good sports. If they’re losing, my oldest gets annoyed while my youngest refuses to continue playing. Cards can be thrown, there’s shouting and yelling, accusations of cheating and how “it’s so unfair” because of the cards they’ve been dealt!

As parents, we try to support our children as they navigate the rules of a new game and, more than anything, try to teach them that being a good loser is just as important as being a good winner. 

It’s a life lesson that we all need to learn and most of us have done. Although recent events in the political arena have shown us that even some adults struggle to understand the rules of the game and be gracious in defeat. Grown-ups can occasionally do a pretty good impression of a child throwing a tantrum because they’re losing at Uno.

Unfortunately, I have also seen this type of behaviour in the office when someone doesn’t get their way. Maybe not as spectacularly awful as a certain former President – and there were consequences – but the fact that this sort of behaviour exists at work at all should not be ok. 

Generally, as we develop from children to adults we learn to ‘develop socially appropriate methods to express anger’. According to behavioural therapists, ‘When the person gets into one of their moods, they show little to no regard for anyone else’s feelings. It’s as if they’re able to block out the fact that anyone else’s feelings matter except their own. From a psychological perspective they fail to demonstrate empathy for others and engage in grandiose behaviour or completely fixate on their needs and show no regard for others.’

This tendency can be exacerbated by stress, something that isn’t in short supply right now. If we’re feeling overwhelmed, it inhibits our ability to regulate our emotions. Exercise, sleep, nutrition and mindfulness are all key methods to keeping our stress levels down.

Having ways to control one’s behaviour and reaction when faced with defeat, or not getting your own way, is essential. As leaders, you are always on show and there’s nowhere to hide even if you do really feel like you want to let that inner child loose. Find those methods that will help you to regulate your emotions. 

We all need to learn to be a good loser and a good winner but, whether disappointed or excited, how you behave will always affect your personal brand and how people perceive you. 

For more tips on how to navigate through the overwhelm or finding better ways to deal with your stress (or even how to improve your game of Uno), do get in touch, bernadette@rosbyconsulting.com we offer 1:1 or team coaching to support you and your team.

At Rosby, we’re on a mission to improve the experience of work for everyone. In doing so, we believe that people and businesses will thrive – creating happy, healthier workplaces.

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