Ranking and Comparing


Drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups.

The Mental Tally Board

While many cultures claim to be egalitarian, a social hierarchy genuinely does exist, and most people attach a good deal of importance to where they are placed in it. One common way people evaluate themselves and others is to compare things like physical appearance,

Intelligence, wealth, employment, friendships and special skills and abilities as markers of where they stand in their social network.

Likewise, when two people compete with or are at war with one another, they will often consider how the other person ranks in regard to these attributes, and where their strengths and vulnerabilities lie.

Because many people have a strong sensitivity to where they stand in their social ranking, emotional abusers often attempt to use ranking and comparisons as a way to control and influence people.

What it Looks Like

  • “All your friends think you’re wrong”
  • “Your brother doesn’t seem to have a big problem with this”
  • “If I’d married someone like (----), we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
  • “You’re so stupid everybody laughs at you.”

How It Feels

Although we try to hide it, it hurts a lot to think of ourselves as being inferior to others. So the mere suggestion of it - even if we know it to be untrue - makes us feel shame, fear and anxiety. We may find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do just to escape the hurtful words of the ranking process.

How to Cope

The best approach when anyone introduces ranking as a communication style is to end a conversation immediately. There is little to be gained from engaging them on that level.

What NOT to do

  • Don’t become defensive or argue the pros and cons of the ranking being presented to you.
  • Don’t retaliate with your own ranking criteria.
  • Don’t automatically believe someone else’s ranking of you is accurate. Trust the facts - not your feelings.
  • Don’t sustain the conversation any longer.

What TO do

  • Remember that you are not defined by anyone else’s opinion or words. You are you - and if someone develops a negative opinion of you that is their problem - not yours.
  • Remember that someone else’s ranking isn’t about you. It’s usually all about the way the other person feels or sees the world.
  • Politely, briefly and calmly refuse to accept the ranking or comparison being offered, reassert your own uniqueness and individuality and reaffirm your commitment to be the best YOU that you can be.
  • If it seems appropriate, politely and without drama thank the other person for being so honest with you and exit the conversation.
  • Get support and discuss your concerns with someone who cares about you and who understands Personality Disorders.