Underestimate me? That’ll be fun.

We all have been underestimated at various points in our lives. That usually comes through shallow discourse in which another party is most likely incapable of truly understanding who you are.  They are listening to you with half an ear and sizing you up based upon whatever parameters they may have at their disposal at that brief moment. And so it starts…

This happens in countless scenarios throughout the world of business, personal relationships, education, friendship, employment and so much more.

Usually we are first aware of this phenomenon through nonverbal action in the opposing party. It can resemble many different behaviors predicated upon the situation and how the opposing party carries themselves.

Surprisingly, someone who has underestimated you is most likely insecure about some strength that you may have or that they suspect that you may have. This tiny morsel of insecurity creates instant polarity where it would not normally exist. On a deep level, both parties are aware of the discord and they are in a new rhythm created as a result of the lack of harmony. This creates opportunity for both parties depending upon who is most aware overall in the situation.

Depending upon how long the interaction between both parties is going to last, a wide variety of options lies in the center of the experience. If it is the most brief of encounters, the options are significantly reduced but if the dynamic creates a longer-term engagement, the options are far more interesting.

When we feel underestimated, most people’s reaction (myself included) is to change the dynamic instantly by reinforcing whatever misdiagnosed weakness the other party has communicated in their evaluation and subsequent treatment of you. That said, I would consider the words of Sun Tzu who says, “act weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak.“

This is precisely the dynamic in life that he is referencing. It is often very wise to allow a third-party who has underestimated you to continue to labor under their belief so that you may leverage that lack of knowledge or miscalculation to your greater benefit.

If someone has underestimated you and they are readily willing to communicate with you in such a way as to reveal the true scope of their evaluation, then that is a very valuable dynamic to exploit.

Hollywood loves this dynamic. Take an innocent looking drunken pedestrian like Jackie Chan and underestimate who you are antagonizing and watch what happens. We, as an audience, enjoy this phenomenon because we are living vicariously through Jackie Chan and it allows us to have a voyeuristic moment where those who have treated us unfairly get their true comeuppance.

We see this in poker, athletes, business people, students and lots of other walks in life including a personal relationship dynamic.

So the next time that you feel that someone has massively underestimated you, before you make them fully aware of how they have miscalculated, you might instead contemplate what a valuable advantage they have just awarded you and consider how you may best leverage that to your greatest benefit. Happy Saturday!

Toss Jackie a bottle!



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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!