Every moment from our birth on has been an imprint in our minds of the type of person we feel we are. There are very few people in the world who actually ARE the person they think they are. Some of us are so much more than who we perceive ourselves to be, and some of us can never measure up to the ideal image we hold of ourselves. In instances where our true actual self is revealed and challenges the ideal version of ourselves we often get “triggered” to some type of anger, resentment, jealousy, or even depression. This is EGO.
An unchecked ego is usually responsible for breaking down walls of communication and prevents us from fostering happy, productive, and healthy relationships at home and in the workplace.
Recently I started a new position where I am tasked with not only performing in the day to day operations, but long term, I am to help develop and train a team of very high qualified people to develop a better understanding of the technical aspects of their positions while strengthening the communication strategy implemented by the Director of Operations to ensure that freelancers and junior staff members will be able to easily take on any tasks and duties assigned to them (thus providing the senior staff with a higher degree of work life balance). However, as nearly everyone knows, when you start a new position there is definitely going to be a point where you have to be able to learn the culture, technical aspects, and infrastructure of the place you work.
In this transition Ego has shown itself in two forms. One, I am dealing with having a plethora of experience yet I have to be “shown the ropes” by the very people I am there to help. Two, the people I am there to help are smart, and talented people, who have gotten by for decades without any help. In some respects they are happy I am there to alleviate some of the workload, and in other respects they are deeply rooted in the culture they have invested in and harvested for decades.
My first matter of business was to check myself. Very soon in my training I would feel frustrated when I was treated like I was fresh out of school starting my first job. My ideal self was being challenged because my actual self needed the training.
The first step to checking your ego is to breathe. You may need to shut out the world and meditate for a minute or so. Think of only your current situation. For me, I stopped thinking of the past and focused only on the current situation. I am a skilled employee who has started a huge job, and I need to learn from my new co-workers so I can understand how I can best help. The second thing I do is find gratitude for the help I am getting. In our lives we usually can become frustrated when we don’t get the exact kind of help we feel we need, but help is help. Be grateful for the gifts you have been given, and do not dwell on what is not. The third thing I do is provide positive and constructive feedback to my new trainers so I can establish boundaries and a good rapport. The last thing I do to check my own ego is to be empathetic. I’m a new person who has literally invaded a new place, and I am there to help make changes. I can’t come in and tear down everything these talented people have built. I need to build of what is there, implement change slowly, and listen to their current challenges, needs, and wants. The more I am seen as a “liberator” instead of an invader, the more success we will all have.
Most of the time I find when I implement those four points, I really don’t find myself having to deal much with the Ego’s of my coworker, because I’m not threatening their sense of self. However, there are always going to be times when you have to also “check” the ego of your coworker.
First off, be clear and precise with your communication. If you take your moment to breathe and still feel that your efforts are being undermined or threatened, politely and firmly tell your coworker that they have crossed a line and let them know that it isn’t acceptable for them to do that again. If you don’t establish your boundaries, your coworkers won’t know where to toe. At the same time, as mentioned before, give praise when they help you. Let them know they are doing a good job and that you appreciate your help. Lastly, listen attentively. Take notes. Everyone’s time is valuable so don’t waste anyone’s time by being half in because your ego won’t let you listen to information you might already know. EVERYONE IS VALUABLE!
If after that you still feel that you are in a hostile environment, you need to talk to your manager or HR representative. Nobody deserves to walk into a hostile and aggressive environment every day.
Ego at the workplace is difficult, but it can be much worse at home. Try applying some of the same steps at home and see if your relationships don’t improve.