LET GO OF EGO
An inflated sense of self-worth can be detrimental to your career. Experts share how you can keep it in check and get work done
Disagreements and differences are not uncommon at the workplace. But if they lead to ego battles, it might be a problem for the organisation and not serve the parties involved well either. Ego clashes with colleagues are not only unprofessional but also affect the spirit of team members and their dynamics.
Be it learning to tackle your teammate’s massive ego, or keep their own attitude in check, thus becomes an essential skill one needs to master. Healthy debates may be productive and even encouraged, but to get things done on time and smoothly, egos need to be tamed. City experts share pointers on how to navigate sticky situations that may arise out of an inflated sense of self-worth.
TIME TO INTROSPECT
Being overtly self-critical may not serve you well but being self-aware is essential. “We all have egos. But if we have an ego that forbids us from taking a colleagues’ perspective into account, it could restrict our growth as individuals. At the same time, once we let go of our ego and try to be more open-minded, it could have a positive impact on our professional life. To begin with, try to look at yourself from a third person’s point-ofview. Once you do that, you’ll realise where you are going wrong. Also, seek feedback from peers and bosses,” advises Yogesh Chabria, motivational speaker and author of The Happionaire Way.
But what do you do when you’re not even aware of your bloated selfworth? As it turns out, most don’t. “People who have ego, aren’t even aware that they have an ego. In a workplace, you need to understand whether the ego is playing up because of a situation, or a particular person. Once this is determined, one can be cognizant of the kind of ego at play. We advise young corporates to follow ‘meta cognition’ (rethinking your own thoughts) to understand where a thought arises from,” explains Dr Zirak Marker, medical director, child and adolescent psychiatrist, Mpower.
But when you’re certain that it’s a colleague’s bloated ego that you have to deal with, it has to be done tactfully. Hemanshu Jain, co-founder of Diabeto, a medical startup, says, “We are a people-centric company. But there are times when people snap for various reasons. You need to understand what the person might be going through. It is very essential to be calm in such situations. Whenever this kind of a situation occurs, once the person calms down and realises his mistake, automatically things go back to normal,” adds Jain, who has managed to diffuse possible work conflicts by having a frank chat with the parties involved and trying to see the situation from another’s perspective. “You need to speak to the person after some time and express yourself openly. Share your concerns. If the person is wrong, stand up for yourself – be upfront,” says Dr Harish Shetty, a clinical psychiatrist.
IS YOUR EGO GOOD OR BAD?
“Many mistake self-respect for ego. Everyone has to have self-belief or self-confidence to move ahead in life. If someone treats you badly, you need to stand up,” Chabria advises. While the term ‘ego’ mostly has a bad connotation, sometimes people confuse voicing one’s opinion or standing up for oneself for having a bloated ego.
Extending the same theory, corporate trainer and etiquette expert Suneeta Kanga says, “Sometimes you need to say ‘I’m sorry but I’m not going to do this because I don’t think it is right’. That is good ego and defending your cultural thoughts, which in normal circumstances, is considered good upbringing.” But bad ego, Kanga feels, is when you “become bossy and start questioning why you weren’t consulted even for small decisions or display anger and jealousy when it’s completely unnecessary”. “Ego is basically having an ‘I’. We all have an ‘I’ and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if this concept of ‘I’ gets inflamed and makes others feel uncomfortable, it can be dangerous,” warns Dr Shetty.
A good ego, according to Dr Marker, is “something that helps drive motivation”. “A positive ego helps me to be more understanding of someone else, makes me more confident, boosts my motivation, and comes with a lot of acceptance of who you really are,” explains Marker.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Ego clashes are bound to happen when there are a lot of people involved. But as a leader or an employee, if one lets the impact of these conflicts affect a team, it can be destructive for the project they are collectively engaged in and can thus be detrimental for an organisation. On an individual level, it could adversely affect careers. “You need to realise that the day you leave, someone else will replace you and nobody is indispensable. Detach yourself emotionally. Ego is nothing but a heightened emotion, giving too much importance to it and thinking that one is indispensable is a fallacy,” says Kanga.
Keeping an open mind is very important, according to Jain. “If a subordinate has more knowledge about a particular subject than you, learn from them. You have to keep your ego aside and work for the team’s benefit,” he says.
However, Chabria matter-offactly says that sometimes it may be necessary to boost one’s ego to get the work done. “If you feel that lifting someone’s ego will get the task done quickly, then why not. Ultimately, the organisation is more important than individuals,” he concludes.