Often underestimate people

Understatement: Being underestimated as an advantage

Understatement is a fine thing. It is with almost thieving pleasure that some people allow themselves to be led astray. It is never malicious, on the contrary: it is an expression of a cultivated, considerate attitude. It's subtle and sometimes so fine that not everyone notices. And yet there is definitely an advantage here: if you underestimate you, you will not count on you. Just like in a ball game: the opposing team thinks you are easy prey, but you still get the ball and the game turns around. Clearly, a surprise effect. But can it also work at work?

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Understatement definition: stylistic device or motto of life

Understatement means something like understatement, modesty, downplaying or restraint. Who invented it? The British. They are known for their dry humor, the fine english style. Understatement is often used in English as a stylistic device that evokes this comedy.

Stylistic The opposite of understatement would be the hyperbole, exaggeration.

Typically, dramatic conditions or events are defused by making them much more harmless through understatement. Understatement can do both culturally determined to shape a whole people, as well as to represent a life maxim of a single person.

In some cultures it belongs viewed socially it is good form to document one's (supposedly important) role to the outside world. This usually happens through the display of wealth and luxury goods. Even today, a distinction is often made between "real nobility" and money nobility:

Although the nobility was officially abolished in Germany in 1919, on the other hand the nobility is still seen as one in the public perception social grouping perceived for themselves. Which already sets itself apart from the general public through certain manners and a certain habitus.

Even if the nobility is a very heterogeneous social group, it will be showing off upstartswho do not know how to move in the appropriate circles, often viewed with suspicion. Anyone who is self-respecting is above things and engages in understatement.

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Understatement example: Different types of understatement

Different types of understatement can be observed, whether in the written or oral field. The effect can be very different. For example…

  • Modest: If someone has achieved something that is worth an award, such as a gold medal in the long jump, then he will have trained accordingly. Understatement in the sense of modesty would be to say: "Oh, that was nothing."
  • Funny: For example, when torrential rains cause the Rhine level to rise and Cologne districts regularly become islands, it has dramatic features. To say understatement: "Well at least the plants get enough water!"
  • Polite: Understatement can also be a way of appeasing conflicts, for example if the other person insists on his point and you - to cut it short - come to the conclusion that you both seem to disagree. It might as well be a euphemism; for example if you had to describe another, very overweight person and say: "She is not directly slim."

In literature, in songs and poems, understatement is a popular stylistic device. It does not appear that seldom in our everyday life either. Anyone who consciously uses understatement can Defuse situationsthat draw attention to yourself or add a humorous touch to something.

You can use understatement to help introduce other people to make you feel better. For example, if you do a friend a big favor and they know how deeply they owe you. You know that you can trust him and, in any case, he will return the favor at some point.

Your part in this great favor downplay thembecause you don't want your friend to be ostentatiously reminded every time you look at it.

Understated meaning: The art of understatement

Employees are often told that they just need to be confident enough to point out your performance to be heard by the boss. Women in particular are repeatedly certified that they far too modest occur and therefore promotions always go to the colleague.

And doesn't the constantly cited elbow society show us that only those who loudly point out their actions can get ahead? Seen in this way, understatement would be completely counterproductive.

On the one hand, there is something to this observation. At the same time you can do that as well Observe the opposite. Action movie lovers know this: there is a nasty villain who is endowed with all the trappings of power. And then there is his opponent, portrayed by Bud Spencer, for example.

This tall, sedate guy looks anything but dangerous, powerful, or strong - and becomes because of him good-natured demeanor regularly underestimated. The same can be observed in real life:

There are people who have to get out of their way actually low self-esteem play out, show status symbols and tell success stories.

Everything just so that those around you notice how great / successful / important they are. On the other hand, there are top specialists who know what their importance is, but who don't make such a shout about it. They are very different in type - and yet have one higher status, precisely because they appear so confident.

Understatement at work: only works with clever people

The tactful understatement in one's own cause can also be observed in one's job. Some people do not even mention their achievements and successes, and when they do, they diminish their share of it. The reason: he finds her Of course.

However, the fact that you are “successfully” understating can only work if your counterpart recognizes the understatement as such. If you have really tried hard at something and downplay the result and your colleague takes you at your word, nothing is won.

Quite different if the other person can crack the code - then the understatement enhances both of you, like Matthias Nöllke explained keynote speaker and author of non-fiction books such as Power games: the art of getting your way:

  • you as Humblewho delivers a top performance and doesn't make a big deal of it.
  • Him as Clever oneswho is not fooled by appearances, but is capable of the to recognize true quality.

Nöllke emphasizes that this effect never underestimate because your counterpart has the chance to prove himself to be a connoisseur, if you do not apply thickly yourself. Above all, you two stay at eye levelwhich benefits your likelihood ratings and makes you appear more trustworthy than someone who has to trumpet all over the place how great they are.

It becomes even more uncomfortable for others when someone like that thinks his or her Emphasize superiority to have to. Funnily enough, this not only shows an unpleasant trait; The Dunning-Kruger effect can often be observed here:

These people are unaware of their own incompetence. Those who pursue understatement as their motto, on the other hand, do not get involved in such status games, but rather takes itself back. Both extremes have recently been observed in American politics.

Understatement among competitors

As mentioned, understatement with a view of the career may seem counterproductive to some, as one can read again and again how much employees like theirs highlight your own advantages should if they want to move forward. Understatement does not mean making yourself invisible either.

It is more a matter of choosing the right time. As in the example from the ball game given at the beginning: Understatement gives you the chance to enjoy your To pursue plansto continue their professional development, to acquire new skills and specialist knowledge.

You hang that not to the big bell - ergo nobody expects anything from you. And at some point an opportunity will arise, this will be your day. Then you will deliver and no one expected that you would know your way around. This will result in new constellations.

Because your understatement has another big advantage at this point: it makes all those who have ripped their throats look quite old and, above all, self-important. However, follow the previously big announcements no action, they will automatically turn to you.

Three tips for stylish understatement at work

So Nöllke has three tips for everyone who wants to work on their professional success with the help of understatement:

  • Do not announce, deliver.

    Instead of talking about what you will accomplish, just do it. Then you can talk about it. "The hen is the smartest creature in the animal kingdom," said Abraham Lincoln, "it only cackles after the egg has been laid."

  • Stay humble.

    Do your best with the greatest possible casualness. Understatement comes into its own particularly impressively if you don't make a big deal out of it yourself.

  • No false modesty.

    Attention, a well-measured modesty is required here. Because some cultivate their vanity by showing how great you are and how little it means to them. That is even more repulsive than just showing off.

Understatement promotes a good corporate culture

It's a strength not perfect to be. Those who show understatement are not trying to give the impression of being perfect. Managers who are committed to this contribute to a healthy working atmosphere:

  • They openly admit weaknesses, Deficits speak openly.
  • You admit not knowing something or to have not yet penetrated.

That makes dealing with each other more pleasant and relaxed. If the boss has no problem with it, Admitting mistakes, it is easier for the employees too. It is less covered up. And when something goes wrong, it's easier to find the cause.

The often quoted Error culture but is only possible if the manager sets a good example.

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