This is how you deal with a sore loser, according to experts

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Not sure how best to deal with a certain someone’s negative energy? Look this way…

Once upon a time, looking up the definition of ‘sore loser’ in the dictionary meant that you’d learn it is a term used to describe “a person who becomes very upset or angry when he or she loses a game or contest.”

Nowadays, though, you could just as easily be confronted with a photograph of Donald Trump.

Since the 3 November presidential election, which saw Joe Biden win 306 electoral college votes to Trump’s 232, the latter has alleged widespread electoral fraud without providing any evidence.

And a recording, which was recently released by the Washington Post, has exposed the disturbingmoment Trump ordered Georgia’s top election official to “find” enough votes to overturn the election result.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes,” the US president can be heard telling Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. 

He later adds that there is “nothing wrong with saying you have recalculated.”

Raffensperger, despite Trump’s cajoling, can be heard replying that Georgia’s results are correct.

“Mr President, you have people who submit information and we have our people that submit information, and then it comes before the court and the court has to make a determination,” he says.

“We have to stand by our numbers, we believe our numbers are right.”

The White House has yet to comment on the release of the audio but, speaking in Georgia, Democratic vice-president-elect Kamala Harris called Trump’s comments “a bold abuse of power.”

“Have y’all heard about that recorded conversation?” Harris asked the audience at a drive-thru rally campaigning for democratic Senate runoff candidates.

“Well it was, yes, certainly, the voice of desperation, most certainly that, and it was a bald, bald-faced, bold abuse of power by the President of the United States.”

Speaking about Trump’s behaviour, psychotherapist Owen O’Kane tells Stylist: “I think it’s reasonable to say there has been little decorum or grace with President Trump’s recent election defeat.

“Daily rants, tweets, and threats have clouded the celebrations of his competitor. It would appear election defeat has activated a defensive response sometimes known as ‘poor loser.’”

O’Kane adds: “While this of course is not a clinical diagnosis, it is a form of psychological process in which disappointment is handled in a negative way.”

O’Kane continues: “Before looking at how to deal with a ‘sore loser’, though, it is important to understand what might be going on for the individual when disappointment strikes.

“Regardless of whether it’s a personal or professional matter, very often egoic processes influence negative reactions when life doesn’t go to plan. Rather than see the defeat or disappointment as an opportunity for growth or part of the natural process, the person may feel rejected, undermined, humiliated or unfairly treated.

“This in turn leads to a number of behaviours in which a lot of ‘acting out’ may be witnessed. 

“In short, the person isn’t coping well and struggling to deal with the outcome.”

For many of us, of course, the ‘sore losers’ in our lives will not be anywhere near as dangerous as Trump; instead, they will be the colleagues who missed out on promotions, the friends who didn’t meet their goals, or the family members who’ve lost a particularly rowdy game of Monopoly.

And, when it comes to helping these loved ones through their disappointment, O’Kane has the following advice to share.

“Here are my four tips for dealing with a sore loser,” he says.

“Firstly, allow them to express their dissatisfaction initially but try to encourage them to step out of the emotions and adopt a more rational, measured response.

“Next, remember that direct, honest communication challenging the person’s behaviour will be helpful for them. Pitying them, and encouraging them to continue in ‘poor loser’ mode, will only reinforce the problem.”

The psychotherapist adds: “Be mindful the person is struggling, so try to be compassionate with them.

“And, finally, bring attention to the person’s achievements and successes in life as that may distract and help shift focus.”

On 6 January, a Senate session will see lawmakers consider any objections of voter fraud that are endorsed by a member of the House of Representatives and a member of the Senate.

As reported by the BBC, though, a majority in both chambers must vote in favour for an objection to be upheld.

“Republicans hold the majority in the Senate but some of their number have already said they will not contest the results,” the news site reports, referring to the likes of Nebraska Republican senator Ben Sasse (whose blistering open letter on the matter can be read above). 

“Democrats are in the majority in the House.”

Owen O’Kane is a psychotherapist, former NHS Clinical Health, and Sunday Times best-selling author. His book, Ten Times Happier, is out now.

Images: Getty

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