One-upmanship is the art or practice of successively outdoing a competitor.
The term originated as the title of a book by Stephen Potter, published in 1952 as a follow-up to The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship (or the Art of Winning Games without Actually Cheating) (1947) and Lifemanship titles in his series of tongue-in-cheek self-help books, and film  and television derivatives, that teach various "ploys" to achieve this.
In that context, the term refers to a satiric course in the gambits required for the systematic and conscious practice of "creative intimidation", making one's associates feel inferior and thereby gaining the status of being "one-up" on them.
This satire of self-help style guides manipulates traditional stuffy British conventions for the gamester, all life being a game, who understands that if you're not one-up, you're one-down. Potter's unprincipled principles apply to almost any possession, experience or situation, deriving maximum undeserved rewards and discomforting the opposition.
Viewed seriously, it is a phenomenon of group dynamics that can have significant effects in the management field: for instance, manifesting in office politics. The term has been extended to a generic, often punning, extension upmanship used for any assertion of superiority: for instance, Photon upmanship, Native Upmanship, and so on.
- ^ In full, One-Upmanship: Being Some Account of the Activities and Teachings of the Lifemanship Correspondence College of One-Upness and Games Lifemastery.
- ^ "The Timelessness of Stephen Potter's Gamesmanship" by Burling Lowrey. Virginia Quarterly Review Autumn 1993 pp. 718–726
- ^ The film School For Scoundrels was a portrayal of how to use Potter's ideas
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