How To Combat Big Egos in the Office

Every workplace has at least one person whose ego is so big that it just can’t seem to fit in the room when your team sits down to discuss. This person comes across as a loud-mouth who is not only overconfident but also brash, commonly speaking words like ‘I came up with…’ and ‘I’m very good at….’ Such an individual begins his day by singing his own praises and ends it by putting you out. Being around such a arrogant personality may not be harmful per se, but it can certainly affect you negatively. Be it loud or subtle, such behavior can easily make you feel distracted and disturbed so deem it necessary to have controlled contact with this colleague.

Here are a few profile traits of an egoistic person :

  • Stops at nothing to take credit for every idea
  • Constantly uses the word “I” rather than “we” when discussing about a group effort
  • Tries to take over every discussion or meeting
  • Thrives on attention
  • Loves to hear his own voice
  • Is only interested in his own ideas and opinions
  • Constantly criticizes the work of others
  • Never accepts his mistake
  • Doesn’t take constructive criticism spiritedly
  • Feels he is in control of everything
  • Is constantly one upping the other employees with his better story, bigger commission or nicer office
  • Makes sure that everyone knows he is there

So what does one do to fight such an oversized ego? Here a few ways by which you can feel better when dealing with this co-worker on an ego trip.

Keep calm and stay composed

The most important resolution you need to make is not to let him get under your skin. Begin practicing emotional detachment. Now being a responsible member of your ‘team’, you need to stay strong and set an example of how well you can battle big egos. Firstly, don’t let your co-worker’s elephant-sized ego get to you. Neither should you allow it to overwhelm you nor should you let it diminish the morale of the other team mates. Secondly, it’s essential to understand that the origin of this ego could be fear or complex. According to psychologists, egos may go hand in hand with fear and the more a person fears the world around him, the more he uses his ego to shield himself from reality. So his exaggerated and boastful demeanor could be due to fear of failure, which he is probably masking with that ego. So be your group’s wingman and remember that your composure and resistance to react will be helpful in sustaining the team’s spirits and boosting everyone’s morale.

United you stand, divided you fall

You need to quickly analyze the situation and realize that there is always strength in numbers. And at the end of the day it is all about the efforts of the team and collectively your efforts shall prevail. As per The Tipping Point, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, even the smallest of the things done in a group can influence the environment. Human behavior is strongly influenced by its surroundings but this impact has to come through as a whole, only then will you be able to bring concrete changes. You must act as the team catalyst and inspire these changes in the team’s behavior. Encourage employees with moderate egos to come forward and participate in activities, rather than allowing people with bigger egos to overshadow them. Together, you and your team can throw big egos out of the window and create an ego-free environment.

Take big actions at the right time

In a big organization, the principle of 80-20 holds true. This means that in a workplace roughly 80 per cent of work is the outcome of 20 per cent of the participants. Every group usually has three types of people enacting this law – the Mavens, the Connectors and the Salesmen. Your job should be to serve as the catalyst for all of these people. Help your team mates do what they’re best at doing and invoke great actions to overshadow this person’s ego. Make him realize that the others are here to work and he is not the best worker, there are those who are better than him. In cases like these, patience is always a virtue but acting at the appropriate time is necessary as that will make all the difference. Timing is of paramount importance.

On a personal level, here are the steps you should take in order to cope up and diminish that ego, if required.

Accept him

The first step in dealing with an egotist is to accept the fact that you cannot change his personality. Whether it’s an unwavering belief in his capabilities or just insecurity, an egotist is set in his ways. It is nearly impossible to turn him into a sensitive and selfless individual overnight, so don’t even try.

Minimize your contact with him

Try to come up with ways by which you can avoid engaging with him. If you cross him in the

corridor, do not stop to chat. Just say hello and move on. Do not make the mistake of asking him social questions as that will give him the chance to launch yet another speech about all the great things he did last week. You don’t need to be impolite but it is best to maintain a safe distance.

Do not feed his ego

Egotists thrive on the approbation and attention they receive. This manifests into a relentless attempt at being clever or funny. A person like this will try to make jokes and witty comments and shall wait for others to laugh and praise him. Do not encourage such behavior by providing a positive reaction because today someone else may be the butt of his jokes, tomorrow it can be you. In fact, choose not to react at all. It would be wrong to scowl or roll your eyes. Just act neutral even when the joke was squared at you. Failure to get a reaction will make him starve and kill his want for attention.

Subtle sarcasm can help

If ignorance is bliss, why do we ever have to use sarcasm? Sarcasm is that guilty pleasure that is morally incorrect but we often use it to fuel our own ego. If you have tried distancing yourself from this person but he still doesn’t stop blowing his own trumpet in front of your boss, it is futile to enter into a battle of words and wits with him. You may get tempted to treat him like an idiot but resist this urge. Rather than that, you can simply react with a ‘uh huh’ on the face. This will make him think that you understand and agree to what he is saying but this underlying sarcasm will become apparent to your other colleagues. This helps you give an outlet to your feelings of annoyance that are driven by this person’s pompousness. But, remember not to openly criticize this co-worker or resort to nastiness as that may land you in trouble.

Constructive confrontation is the last resort

Mr. Big Ego may be so busy basking in reflected glory that he may not even realize that his behavior is affecting you and your work. If you really are getting perturbed despite trying all of the above, you should probably talk to this person and explain to him how his actions are negatively impacting you. Sometimes, constructive confrontation can be diagnostic! Take your chances. If he trivializes or dismisses your concerns, you know its Big Ego speaking. But if he finally takes your concerns seriously and resorts to settling issues, the prognosis turned promising.

My parting tip to the victims of this situation would be not to get angry. Also, you must take disciplinary action immediately if the person’s ego issues include sexual harassment or bullying.

Author Bio: Sudha (Dolly) is an Online marketing Executive with an experience of more than three years, she is a traveler and a passionate photographer, loves blogging occasionally too. She is currently working with a popular job search portal

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