Do you work with someone with an oversized ego? Chances are we have all come across at least one or two people with massive egos. It can be very difficult to work with someone like this. The question is, how do you know it’s an ego problem in the first place? The answer is that you can’t know for sure. The competitive nature of the work place can lead to people looking out for themselves. You could just be dealing with a confident and assertive person.
When referring to the ego, I am not talking about Sigmund Freud’s definition of the ego where he defined three aspects of the self: the id (instinctive, impulsive & primitive self), the ego (the organised and realistic core self) and the superego (moralising role of the conscience). Here, ego refers to the dictionary definition as being someone with exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit.
An oversized ego is the elephant in the room. It seems that people are comfortable talking about leadership, teamwork and communication and do not address the issue of a big ego. Working with people who have narcissist tendencies will undoubtedly affect team dynamics. An overbearing behaviour will get in the way of problem solving, cause stress and negatively affect general morale.
Someone with a healthy ego has drive and conviction yet is realistic that the world does not revolve around them. So how do you spot an oversized ego?
Profile traits of an oversized ego
- Stops at nothing to gain credit for every task and idea.
- Only uses the word “I” instead of “we” when referring to a group effort.
- Takes over every meeting and discussion.
- Feeds on attention.
- Only interested in their own opinions and ideas.
- Constantly criticises other people’s work.
- Never wrong.
Here are 4 C’s to deal with egotism in the workplace.
Resist the temptation to fight back as this will trigger a defense/attack mode. The other person thinks they are always right, so remain calm and let them state their opinions and thoughts until they run out of steam. Then, you can address their claims and make your points calmly and in a confident manner.
Use the person’s name when speaking to them. This will subtly massage their ego in a way that allows you to get their attention. Use their name often (don’t overdo it) so they continue to feel that a particular conversation is about them.
A big ego is likely to get aggravated if they think you know or have something that they don’t and this will trigger them to react. Let the other person believe they do indeed know more by asking questions and consulting them. This should relax them and not urge them to try to overpower you.
Once you have softened the ego with the previous steps and left it in a receptive position with its guard slightly down, speak your mind and present your message. Clearly state your objective or objection. Do it in a private fashion so that the ego does not feel it is being undermined in public.
How do you deal with big egos? Feel free to leave your comments.
Written by Ana Antunes da Silva.
Photo by Vigilant20.