We all know that sinking feeling: you put yourself out there to answer a tricky question and get it wrong. You volunteer for a task only to find it too overwhelming to finish on time. Your name gets called during a meeting, and you stutter and stammer your way through an answer. That red-hot feeling that runs through your veins gets your heart beating faster, and blood rushes around your body. At this point, fair-skinned people blush visibly. It’s where the saying ‘being left red in the face’ comes from.
The reality is that in this situation you have failed. And your critics are loving it. They’re making the most of your failure and using it to their advantage. Why do they do it? That’s an age-old question. And it’s a situation that most people can relate to. What makes a person take pleasure in the failure of others? It’s a complex set of circumstances and factors that make people thrive on your misfortune.
1. Some people want you to fail
There are those people who are wired to get a kick out of someone else’s failures. These are the people who smirk and snigger when you don’t achieve a goal. They whisper in corners and take great delight in your discomfort. They are also the type of people who will actively try to orchestrate your failure for their own personal satisfaction. These saboteurs can’t get enough of it.
Your boss asks for someone to coordinate the year-end office party. You volunteer, thinking you’re pretty good at organizing, and how hard can it be? Only afterward you discover the reason you were the only one. Planning this function is a nightmare. Nothing goes according to plan. Despite your best efforts, the evening is a flop. The DJ didn’t turn up, and the food was a disaster. And there’s that one colleague who spends the evening reveling in your misery.
This toxic person is actually enjoying seeing you struggle like this. You need to ask yourself some questions. No one likes to be paranoid, but what if the DJ didn’t come because he/she called to cancel? You might want to believe that he/she wouldn’t stoop that low, but how well do you really know him/her? You’d be surprised how far some people will go to ensure the failure of others.
2. Failure hurts
There are those desperately unhappy folks out there who can only feel better by hurting others. They rely on several tactics to achieve this. They say cruel things, seek out confrontation, and gossip behind your back. One of the many tools in their arsenal is capitalizing on your failures. They take delight in watching how much failure hurts you.
You prepare a presentation for an important meeting. When you walk into the meeting, you’re confident. But your boss rips your presentation to pieces and you feel like you’ve failed. As much as you shouldn’t take it personally, you do. And your ego and feelings are hurt. That colleague who after the fact pretends to commiserate but makes hurtful comments that make you feel worse is enjoying your hurt. It’s he/she that makes nasty remarks to your other colleagues behind your back.
For this type of person, it’s not so much that you’ve failed. It’s more about the fact that you’re hurt. Your failure makes them happy. Damien Sulzberger, an employee at UKBestEssays, says, ‘’Such people are deeply hurt themselves. This is what makes them seek to hurt others in any way they can. In that way, they won’t feel alone in feeling hurt.’’
3. People envy your abilities and talents
People who like to see others fail are envious of the gifts you have. Our parents tell us this from the time we are young. We all have different talents. Your talents may be related to your success in life. Others who lack these talents will look upon them with jealousy. When your talents and abilities don’t save you from failure, such people take pleasure in it.
You’re a great marathon runner. Your office sponsors a local event and expects employees to participate. You train in the confidence that this run will be easy. Around you are others, who aren’t fit or talented athletes. Where you’re looking forward to the run, they’re dreading it. They look at you and feel jealous. They want to have your talents and be recognized for being the best.
Race day arrives. The night before, you get sick. You arrive for the marathon because you committed to running it. As soon as you start running, you know it was a bad idea. Before long, you’re even sicker. Those who struggled to train for the run are passing by you as you’re being put into an ambulance. And their smiles are so broad they can barely continue running. They see it as your comeuppance. How dare you find this so easy when they find it so hard? When they perceive your talents as having failed you, they feel satisfied.
4. People transfer their own insecurities onto you
For some people who derive satisfaction from the failures of others, it has little to do with the other person. It has more to do with the person themselves. Such people are dogged by terrible insecurities that make them afraid to try for fear of failure. For many of them, their insecurities stem as far back as childhood and are a constant companion. They feel they must hide behind a mask so that no one can see how insecure they are.
Your boss chooses you to say a speech at a function. You’re a confident public speaker and command the attention of the audience. A colleague or friend is the exact opposite. Something has happened in their past that makes them too terrified to stand up and speak to an audience. The very idea gives them nightmares. They worry that this makes them a bad employee when compared to you.
When the night of the speech comes, things go wrong. You find yourself going blank. You try to find where you were on your speech cards, but they’re jumbled up. The silence in the room is deafening. The glare your boss is giving you says it all. Your colleague is happy you have failed because now they don’t feel so bad about their own shortcomings. They’ll commiserate and might even seem genuine about it. Inside, they’re jumping for joy that you’ve failed.
5. When you fail, it takes the pressure off them
There are people who delight in your failure because it takes the attention off them and their own shortcomings. They’re happy that the negative spotlight is on you because then they can hide their failures in the dark. While everyone is focused on your failure, they get to pretend for a short while that they have never failed. Such people are aware of their own faults and use any opportunity to cover them. They’re happy when your weaknesses are exposed instead of yours.
You’re the star of your college Math class. It comes easily to you, and you always score top grades. Others in class look at you and wonder how you do it. They struggle and never seem to do well. Regardless of how hard they work, they can’t manage. When you write a test and don’t do well, it makes these classmates happy. Now at least the lecturer’s focus is on you and your failure, and not on them.
They know that it won’t last forever, and soon you’ll bounce back to your successful self. But they’re determined to make hay while the sun shines and make themselves feel better.
6. Your failure is fodder for gossip around the water cooler
A lot of people you work with love a good scandal to gossip about with their colleagues. So, it’s not necessarily your failure they’re capitalizing on. It’s just the fact that there’s something new to gossip about. A gossipy person doesn’t care about what the topic is, provided it’s juicy.
If your relationship with a partner ends and you’re feeling miserable, this is what the office gossip has been waiting for. They’ll encourage speculation about why you failed to maintain the relationship. They may start rumors about you and the demise of your relationship. Their mission will be to embellish the story and make it bigger than it is.
Such a person is an attention seeker. They’re not happy for as long as the focus is not on them. They pride themselves on digging up dirt on others, and always have the inside track on what’s going on.