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Ask Azim | Q&A (November 2016)

Azim-JamalQUESTION:

How do you deal with an egotistic colleague?


AZIM: 

The key is to function from a place of self-awareness. You are probably wondering that if the problem lies with the other person, then why am I suggesting to you to change. Because the other person is a mirror and whatever we like or dislike about them is a reflection of what actually needs attention within us. Any challenge, dissonance or problem is a great opportunity to self-evolve and in the process resolve the apparent problem.

Here are a few ways to work this out:

1. Accept the others as they are – We can try to convince people to change, however we cannot expect it. Hence the first step is to accept the person as is and then see how best to deal with the situation. Whether they are operating from a place of insecurity or holding a grudge, we cannot expect people to change. However, we can definitely change the way we respond to them.

2. Find out why – Egotistic behavior is often a front for deeper emotional issues like resentment, insecurity or feeling undervalued. Sometimes kindness and patience can go a long way in helping such people deal  with their inner dilemmas. If they feel secure and comfortable in your presence, you might see such behavior reduce or even disappear with time.

3. Stay objective and purposeful – Keep your eye on your goal and resist getting pulled into arguments and small talk that do not serve your purpose. While it is tempting to be able to prove a point, too much discussion or argument only serves to fuel the egotist and prolong the attention seeking drama. Express your opinions calmly and never lose your temper. For example if you are working on a project together, decide the outcome and then divide the tasks to the best of each person’s ability. Define and timeline each sub-goal, so that there is no room for confusion in the end. Finally, discuss the plan with your boss to further reduce chances of miscommunication.

4. Do not tolerate bad behavior – If people persist in arguing or behaving rudely, stop the discussion at once. Refuse to talk unless they are able to watch their language or tone, and then walk away. They will soon learn that this behavior will not get them very far with you. Deflect the situation towards them by choosing to treat it as their problem, not your problem.

5. Inspire good behavior – We all thrive on acknowledgment and appreciation and egotists even more so. Praising and acknowledging their good behavior can gradually help them to persist in those behaviors and help smoothen the relationship.

6. Be authentic – Authenticity is a force of nature which few can ignore or undermine for long, especially egotists, because they operate from a place of inferiority or superiority, both of which are inauthentic. Say what you mean and do what you say. If you are clear about your path and persistent in your efforts, your authenticity will prevent people from pulling you into their dramas, because your behavior will stop fueling such interactions.

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