Dealing with the ego in the workplace

With the increasing demands in the workplace, many individuals resort to ego-based behaviour to land themselves professionally, but why do we fall into this trap and how does the person on the receiving end deal with an ego on a daily basis?

Go to the profile of Josie Copsey
Mar 22, 2017

There have been many experiences over the years, where I have witnessed and endured the ego in the workplace:

  • Individuals who believe their importance was greater than mine or another's
  • They are too busy to help you out with a task because it's way down the priority list
  • They don't make or take the time to speak with you when you are seeking guidance or answers for a work task displaying that it’s not important to them

I can remember how these behaviours would impact me in the workplace; I’d generate and process a series of questions equating to self-worth, confidence and beliefs, which quite frankly were nothing whatsoever to do with me.

See, more often than not, the individual behaving in this fashion is more than likely unaware of their behaviour.

  • Caught up in the daily grind of their work position, it can often be a behaviour that is being reflected on them by their own boss or another colleague, or their ego is taking the lead as a consequence of stress or other pressures.
  • In some instances, they feel powerless in their personal situation, that the ego takes over in their work life to boost their self worth or confidence.
  • The lack of self-belief in their own ability can also contribute to behaviour; the fear of being found out.

In all these instances the option to provoke or belittle someone else will provide the upper hand – this is all ego-based behaviour.

This is something that can be difficult to digest when on the receiving end of this behaviour. Remember, it’s not personal nor is it an attack on you. As humans, we display fears and insecurities in a number of ways; the ego behaviour is one of those ways. Think of it like a wall going up around that person, that protects them and stops anyone getting close on matters that make them feel uncomfortable or fearful.

I’ve found that when individuals were confronted about their behaviour, they are shocked and embarrassed that they have behaved in such a way and are quickly apologetic and mindful in the future.

When faced with this situation, the best way to respond is to remain calm and inform them of how their demeanour has made you feel.

Of course, there will be instances where this is not the case and even after speaking with an individual the situation hasn’t improved. In the small instances where this is the case there are practical actions that can be taken.

  • Be sure to capture the conversation in writing and to maintain a record of any further conversations with the individual. Escalate through the appropriate channels in your workplace and decide on the best course of action mutually.
  • Keep reminding yourself that it’s not personal and explore all other options that are available to you. Perhaps its time to evaluate where you are and think about what your next step professionally should be if things do not improve.
  • Remember your value and self-worth in all of this, I recall times where I felt I wasn’t good enough or that I did something wrong. This was not the case and actually, different people have different values and expectations – we are individual and unique in our own way.

It’s important to embrace who you are and not succumb to the pressure of the workplace ego, if something doesn’t feel right then trust what you feel you should do over what you think you should do. The answers are already within.

Go to the profile of Josie Copsey

Josie Copsey

Life Change Expert, Author, Mentor, Josie Copsey Ltd

An expert in helping women to create a healthier and happier work life doing a job they love and pretty much on a mission to spread joy wherever I go! Ambitious, driven and focused I built a very successful change and training career in the corporate world that spanned over two decades. I helped leadership teams of large companies to transform their business. Today, I serve women who want to change their job, discover their perfect career and who want to have a better work life balance. We all deserve to be doing a job we love, we have a purpose in this life and it’s not being stuck in a job doing something that we dread or makes us feel ill. I’m super passionate about changing the dynamics of the working world. Creating more awareness of our wellbeing, supporting the growth and confidence of women who want to achieve their career aspirations and not by compromising our health or future for the job.


Go to the profile of Misti Bliss
Misti Bliss about 3 years ago

Too true, work place bullying has its roots in playground bullying, where often those that are bullied become the bully without consciously making that decision.