88. Is it better to be underestimated or overestimated?

Marie prefers it when people underestimate her.

I prefer it when people overestimate me.


  • Marie didn’t use to have a huge network of friends, so conflicts with friends weren’t easy for her. Each close friend made up a significant part of her circle, and so represented a solid risk to her social life. I’ve always had a lot of friends (if not necessarily as close), so if one of my friends decides that I’m an asshole, I’ll live. Again, assuming that I feel that I’m doing what I think is right.
  • Marie dislikes it when people judge her or stuff she’s done. When we discussed it, she confessed that even the thought of somebody estimating her skill levels felt intrusive to her. “Can’t they just leave me alone?” was her gut feeling, and while being overestimated or underestimated both rubbed her the wrong way, just the fact of “being estimated” was disagreeable to her. I, on the other hand, am so used to having many people having opinions about me and assessing me in myriad ways, that I seldom give it a thought. I’m of course susceptible to people making (what I feel are) wrong judgements about me — but the fact that they make judgements/assessments/etc. is for me just part of life.
  • Marie hates letting people down, and if somebody says “Oh, I’m sorry. I overestimated your skills/time/power/etc. I thought you could do this, but it turns out you can’t. Sorry. I’ll revise my estimate.” she feels that she’s failing them by not living up to their expectations. I am the complete opposite. If someone says that they thought I could do something and it turns out I couldn’t, I usually feel flattered.
  • Marie is much better at being underestimated. People who say “Wow. I had no idea you could do that!” generally boost her ego, because they give her a chance to shine and over-perform. When someone says “Claus, I had no idea you could do that.” I tend to get a bit annoyed, and ask myself why they had such a low estimate of my competence. Of course, this is only when I feel they should know. I don’t expect people to know everything about me, so some surprised “Wow” is quite pleasing. But when it’s a skill I feel they should know I possess, it annoys me to be underestimated.
  • Realising that this difference in not only world view, but also underlying assumptions and feelings was there, makes a lot of my frustration melt away. Some of my most bitter moments have been where people have underestimated my capabilities, and I’ve always seen that as unnecessarily insulting. And some of the biggest fights I’ve gotten into have started when I’ve told someone that I thought they were great at something and they disagreed.



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