Something that comes naturally to me is trash talking. What I’ve come to learn is that trash talking is almost never helpful. It feels like there’s a presence that makes everything go awry once you open your big mouth. A recent example (and there are tons) was when Sam and I were playing Ping-Pong and I was up 20-16 and had the serve for the series. Right around that point I made a snide remark and what happened? He rattled off 4 straight to get us to OT and ended up winning the game. Even the next game when I held a lead I still found myself talking about how my opponent had no chance at winning. I just tend to think highly of myself and write off my opponent because if everything works out then not only did I win, but I got to insult my opponent. It’s not malicious, it’s just banter. I get enjoyment out of needling my opponent. The classier way to handle this is to just keep your mouth shut and win like a champ, but what fun is that?
This goes hand in hand with a chapter I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s book What the Dog Saw about choking verse panicking. My feeling is that after a nice trash talking remark, you tend to choke. Gladwell defined choking as over thinking what comes naturally to you. Essentially, after trash talking you start thinking about not messing up because you have to back up your statement, which in turn causes you to over think and thus choke. I believe this is a good description of what happens when you start getting cocky and belittling your opponent. I think the real question becomeshow is saying what you’re thinking aloud really change anything. I could be thinking to myself how badly I’m going to beat Sam but not say it aloud and I come off as a good sport. Compared to saying what I’m thinking and being a dick. I’ve always been one for being me and being honest which is why I tend to say what’s on my mind. Yet just by opening my mouth do I bring into play the choking aspect. For what it’s worth, when you panic you go straight to your instincts forgetting everything you’ve learned.