Though the name might sound like that of a superhero, Super Egomaniac Mac doesn’t wear a cape. He does, however, seem to defy the laws of nature by insisting that he is the center of the universe, and that all else revolves around him. He wears the letter “I” proudly on his chest and wields the pronouns “mine” and “me” dangerously, wreaking havoc everywhere he goes.
This kind of behavior can tempt even those of us without super-human strength to take a flying leap out of the nearest window. Alas, Egomaniac Mac is no superhero out to save the world one kindness at a time; he is a selfish and egotistical coworker with an inflated sense of self-worth.
Big Egos Cause Big Headaches
We have all tried to communicate with that self-absorbed person who wants to hear only what he or she has to say. Your part of the conversation usually goes something like this: “But, I…” “Well, I…” “Let’s…” Until you are interrupted, and Mac starts talking again, about himself, of course. It can be highly challenging to accomplish anything with someone who never wants to give, listen, or share, but always wants to take, talk, and control.
We’ve all been to the team meeting where Egomaniac Mac is quick to point out every flaw of every individual, and even quicker to mention his plethora of accomplishments. Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “It would be nice if he could accomplish throwing his trash away and helping with clean-up once in a while.”
Team members and bosses with big egos tend to look down on others. They have a sense of entitlement, and they believe that they are faultless. They arrogantly refuse to listen to others or take suggestions, because their way is always the best. They believe they have all of the answers.
Tip: If your talents are not being used, you have either not spoken up or have not demonstrated your skills.
These folks honor commitments only if it benefits them. Relationships are tumultuous, the growth of the practice is stunted, and turnover is high as a result of this selfish, uncaring, and narrow-minded way of thinking. Ultimately, the clients suffer.
Egomaniac Mac isn’t the only one that can have an out-of-this world ego. Darling Donna is quite lacking in charm, with all of her narcissistic ways. From afar, she seems driven and successful. She knows how to sparkle and shine just enough to manipulate you into getting exactly what she wants.
Tip: Recognize the game that prima donnas play and realize that you are being manipulated. You have to reinforce the rules and stick to them.
But watch out! Our little darling tends to be temperamental and moody, and she has a very short fuse. She also has a tendency to act like you’re her best friend the minute she needs your help to restrain little Fido during a dental exam. Rest assured, she won’t remember your name (yet alone risk damaging her manicure) the next time a shar pei throws a hissy fit in the exam room. Her mission is to look good, and the mission of the team will forever be a distant second priority for her.
How to Work Successfully with Egomaniacs
How do you keep your sanity, establish guidelines, and get results when dealing with self-absorbed and egotistical co-workers?
- If you talk to them about themselves, they will listen for hours! Use this to your advantage. If you have to work with them, you might as well figure out how to get things done. Make sure you recognize their good work (without being disingenuous or lying). They love the praise, and it can make working with them easier while possibly engendering some reciprocity.
- When making suggestions, remember that something only has value if it relates to their interests. Do your homework and tailor your conversations accordingly. This will allow you to be a far more effective persuader.
- Egoists are often grand-standers and have a grossly overestimated sense of their worth to the organization. Their “all-knowing” attitude can convince you to start thinking they must be right when they’re not. Do not let their charisma and confidence trick you into thinking that they have an above average idea. Trust your gut.
- To maintain control, call their bluffs. In doing so, you will ultimately be able to help them become part of the team while encouraging them to act responsibly.
- A self-centered individual can be a space invader and suck your time away. It may be hard for them to hear limits, but you need to be firm.
Deflate Mac’s and Diane’s egos! You CAN create an environment where the team as a whole accomplishes much more than when you let these egotistical people rule. Now that is the feat of a superhero!