Recognition has been increasing across 2021 that wellbeing at work is often underpinned by good management skills. This is even more crucial in a world where remote or hybrid working looks set to be the norm. And as remote working specialist Gary Walker told me before he wrote this article, for wellbeing to thrive when teams are working remotely, it’s crucial that both leaders and team members know how to tame their egos.
In this piece, consultant and author Salman Raza shares insights from his book, outlining some of the factors that can trigger ego and four practical steps to keep it in check.
The ego is an innate feeling of self-importance. It can be stubborn, complicated and self- righteous. It plays an important role in our lives. Without it, we would lack a sense of self-importance and self-esteem. However, the ego, when unchecked, can be a dangerous thing.
When our ego lights up, something or someone triggers that response. There are many triggers out there, including misinterpreted social signs, actions, facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.
Taming the ego
The key is to acknowledge these triggers and then try and tame the ego. Here are few ways to do that:
1. Take check of your feelings
When you notice yourself feeling angry or defensive, stop for a moment. Do an inventory of your feelings. Ask yourself, why do I feel angry? Or why does this upset me? Pause and think before reacting. By processing these feelings, you’ll give yourself a buffer of time to contemplate your next step instead of reacting impulsively.
2. Acknowledge that mistakes are okay
The ego can be triggered when we make mistakes. We need to learn to accept that mistakes are okay and can be our greatest teachers. We do not have to lie or make excuses when we make them. The best thing we can do is own our faults in times of error. When we say, I’m sorry, I made a mistake, we become humble and vulnerable. Vulnerability opens us up. It allows us to be open to things such as teachable moments, self-awareness, and awareness of others.
Humility is also a magnificent tool to pacify any situation. Whether or not we like it, it works and helps calm not only our own ego but the ego of others. Of course, I’m not saying to apologise for everything. If you are innocent and there is not any doubt that you have done
nothing wrong, then respectfully stand your ground. But if there is even the slightest chance you did something wrong; it is best to own up to it.
3. Look at the bigger picture
The ego is so focused on the self, it tends to make you forget the bigger picture. When we’re focused on the bigger picture, our ego driven feelings becomes irrelevant and trivial. In fact, our minds suddenly forget our egos. Think about team sports. All the members of the team want to do well, but it doesn’t matter who scores or who blocks. What matters is that the team works together to win the game. When leaders and colleagues recall their vision and mission, the ego subsides naturally.
4. Let It Go
Another way to tame the ego, is to pause and ask yourself, “Is it really that bad?” When you take a moment to examine the situation at hand, you will often realise that it isn’t that bad. And if it is that bad, consider what is the absolute worst thing that happen. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Write down your frustrations, anger and worries on a piece of paper and then destroy it. Alternatively, shout them out loud in the shower. Do whatever it takes to acknowledge the reasons your ego has been triggered and then try to let it go.
It is through humility, patience and rational thought that we can conquer the ego’s desires. The ego is not rational, it is impulsive, and it wants you to think you are superior. Any interaction threatening that thought will cause negative feelings to stir. Of course, these tactics can’t be mastered overnight. It takes time, practice, and a keen awareness of outside triggers and also yourself. However, when we tame our egos, we can eliminate unnecessary frustration and stress and have happy, productive, working relationships.
About the author:
Salman Raza is a biomedical engineer, has an MBA in innovation management & entrepreneurship and a MS in strategic management. He is also a certified international auditor and consultant. He has lived on four continents and worked in thirty countries. The diversity and experiences have given him an insight into working with different cultures, values, and personality types. Through his consulting company Razalution Bureau; he leads training and workshops on soft skills and leadership development. He is also author of new book Life’s Non-Conformities: An Auditor’s Tale of Practical Application of Social, Emotional & Behavioral Strategies, available on salmanraza.net and Amazon