Quite frankly I strongly dislike the title “How to deal with an egotistical person,” but I know this is what people search for.
Also, this gives me a good opportunity to open this blog with why I don’t resonate with the wording as a good segue into the actual article. I have always abhorred using the word ‘deal’ when referring to people.
It sounds confrontational. This word doesn’t give me a good vibe.
I would hope that someone, for instance, doesn’t have to “deal with me.” Secondly, I also feel uncomfortable with the word ‘egotistical’ as it’s a harsh judgment on someone else’s character, one which I may not have the liberty to make (nor should I). Also, once such harsh judgments are actually made, a certain mood is created or feeling that may make us feel in a particular way toward that person or situations where that person will be present. Also, even a person who may be labeled as egotistical by many often would not like this label attached to them (is my thought).
Rather than say,
I may soften it by saying,
“How to handle a difficult person.”
Even that sounds rough around the edges, so I’ll go with,
“How to interact with a person with a strong personality.”
I am sure there are ways to soften this even more.
To be quite honest, I have had a strong personality in the past and maybe on some topics in some situations, I still do. I had the opinion I’d rather be right than happy. I wouldn’t say I need to give up my stand on something, but now I realize I have a lot to learn from everyone, and if I stick too steadfast to a certain opinion of something, it often comes back to bite me. The more one holds on to something, the more it actually needs to be let go as it puts up a wall to let in the goodness that is out there in the world.
It’s not always easy to let our guard down, in fact, it’s probably the hardest thing in the world to do. It’s hard to realize that our thoughts may NOT be true, and that it’s ok to challenge our thoughts to free our mind. But as we evolve to that point, one thing I have noticed, surely in my evolution, and maybe also interacting with others who stick steadfastly to their own opinions is often they just want to be heard.
But some may argue, if we give such individuals air time, wouldn’t that just encourage their strong personality even more?
Would it show that I agree with them, and then need to bend to them?
Not necessarily. Most often, no, if done right.
Now, honestly, this is where I will feel a little stuck. I have had good experiences in both others helping me manage my strong opinions and experiences where I have been able to manage myself when others have strong opinions (I don’t want their strong opinions to get me down or sway me, though I am of course open to learning and adapting as the situation calls for it with some reflection time). First, I’ll share some thoughts on how others have helped me mitigate my own ego or strong personality in the past.
It was never good for someone to argue with me about it and boldface tell me that I was wrong, or that their opinion was better and the reasons why. This just would put me on the defensive and make me stick to my opinion (no matter how “right” or “off-center” it was, and there were times my opinion or ideas were NOT the best, as I think about it in hindsight, in fact holding steadfast to ideas that really did not serve me kept me stuck and away from happiness and alignment).
I have always touted that I am open to listening to others’ ideas, which I am. However, I do at times get territorial about my ideas and my feelings when I feel I am being ambushed or invaded, so when people gang up against me to tell me why they are right and I am wrong, this would naturally either make me hold faster or retreat. Maybe not initially, but surely if it continues. So, if someone approaches me with more of an indirect approach with authentic curiosity about why I believe this or that or how I came to this or that conclusion, I believe they have my best intentions at heart, and I’d be willing to not only talk and share but once we open a dialogue, I would be more open to changing or adapting as this helps me to evoke awareness about the situation, idea, or concept.
As a cross-cultural coach, I have always said I believe in the power of learning from those different than me, taking away and adapting the good, while ‘discarding’ those ideas or concepts that don’t serve me. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes, easier said than done.
Whenever possible, I do try to get out ahead of it. This helps me to reduce any stress I may feel before, during or after the interaction.
If I know I will have to interact with a certain person, I center myself and consider what I will need to discuss with this person and how I may approach the situation. I always feel if we know we will have to interact with those who ‘rub us the wrong way’ it’s better to prepare ourselves in advance. I don’t want such interactions to ruin my whole day. I want to maintain my cheerful disposition to the best of my ability when interacting with those who may chip away at this.
Why give my power away to them?
How can I get out ahead of it? Well, I try to consider the situation and the person, try to consider the entire context I have about this person up until now, things that have worked, things that I should avoid. I try to put together an ‘action plan’ of words, behaviors, and interactions. I meditate a little on this, I may get advice from others, and I also then visualize a collaborative outcome for me and the other person. This may seem very out-of-the-box, but I have also scripted outcomes, which sometimes almost come true – maybe not the actions but the feelings- the feeling I want to feel and the overall feeling I hope we both walk away from the interaction from has come to fruition when I take the time to do this.
There have also been situations where I have had to manage an interaction by email (not my preferred method, but working in distributed teams, it’s sometimes the go-to when we can’t talk live and it’s something that needs to be addressed sooner than later), where I did my visualization, meditation, and journaling. In addition to that, I also wrote the draft of the email I wanted to send, then I considered how the person may respond, keeping in some realistic scenarios. Then, I’d actually draft a ‘response’ email – an email I think that person may write to me after reading my email based on all that I know about this person’s communication style.
When I intentionally do this, I actually have noticed that a collaborative outcome for both of us often comes to fruition. In fact, in a few of these cases, the email response that I had drafted (considering how that person may respond to me) manifest into an email response from that person itself. It’s almost like I forecasted how that person would respond to me. Though, of course, their wording and mine are not 100% similar, the crucial element that aligned was how we hopefully both feel after this interaction.
So, here I am NOT dealing with an egotistical person, but interacting with a human who wants to be validated, heard, respected, and understood empathetically.
Don’t we all want this even if we aren’t labeled by others as ‘egotiscial,’ ‘diffcult,’ ‘irritating’ or whatever the word is that is used as a descriptor that doesn’t ‘feel good’ to us?
After going through this exercise, can I say I am perfect at taming my own ego or being a cooperative component in mitigating situations with those with strong personalities?
A resounding no.
Life is a continuous journey of learning. No two situations are the same. Even if person A challenges me today on X opinion and tomorrow person C challenges me on the same person, the fact is that both person A and person C are different, and I will be somehow ‘different’ in those situations as well. No two situations are the same. We have something new to learn in every single experience, even if on the surface they look the same.
We may all have different strategies of managing our own ego or strong opinions and how to manage these situations with others. The real victory, in my opinion, in either situation is being able to walk away feeling good.
Picture credit: @pikisuperstar
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