The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Bigger They Are, The More Fragile Their Ego …

I appreciate I’m the last person to be saying this, but recently I’ve been exposed to some people who can only be described as having a very healthy ego.

You know the types … they say “I” instead of “we”.

They claim sole ownership for everything they’ve been a part of.

They talk about how their way is the way everyone will eventually adopt.

They are very in your face, view anyone who has a different point of view as the enemy and tends to align only with those who are of a similar make-up or are unfiltered in their adoration.

This does not mean these people are not good or clever.

They are.

Whether they are as good or clever as they think they are is another thing altogether.

But here’s the thing, working with them can be a nightmare.

You either play their game or you get discarded and slandered.

The amount of people who have written about these sorts of people on Corporate Gaslighting is incredible … and yet, because of their ego, they see their actions as ‘decisive’ rather than bullying and because they get stuff done, companies often view them as stars rather than grenades.

But here’s the thing …

The bigger the ego, the more they’re hiding.

An insecurity.

A past wrong.

A lack of knowledge in an area they should know.

At this point I should say you shouldn’t try to find what they’re hiding and then exploit it because then all you’re doing is being as bad as them, but there are also times when that is the only alternative.

And here’s how to do it without being a complete dick.


Listen very, very carefully to what they’re saying.

Ask for clarification on points that may be ambiguous.

Give examples of situations where a different approach was successfully used to hear their perspective on it.

Don’t attack.

Don’t antagonise.

The point is there are always alternative ways to approach every problem and anyone who suggests otherwise is wrong.

The bully may believe their approach is the best. They may think that what they did had greater effectiveness than all the alternatives. But the reality is so much of that is subjective so if you let your ears do their job, then I guarantee you they’ll hear things that will allow you to offer an alternative that they themselves, will have created.

It’s not easy.

Even done gently and calmly it can be intimidating.

But it can work and the beauty of the egotist is that as much as they want the spotlight, they’re petrified of anyone who has the power to take it away from them, so they ensure that in the future, they’re also given a starring role.

And if none of that works, then you can always try Tom Hanks advice which is pretty good.

Or leave.

Because there’s never going to be enough room in any company for anyone if an individual believes they are the company.

13 Comments so far
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Who did you meet, Bono?

Comment by Bazza

I am going to guess you dealt with an American. Maybe a New Yorker. Only reason I say that is I’ve met more pushy management from that city than anywhere else I’ve worked in the world. If not a NY, I would guess they aspire to be from there or their role models are. And I do know I’m generalising. Been one of those days.

Comment by Pete

You could be arrested for this.

Comment by Bazza

True. I think it is because I’m still in shock Rob is saying something nice about Tom Hanks.

Comment by Pete

prejudiced fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

Sorry Pete, you’re wrong. They were American though so it’s not a total washout. It was fascinating because as much as adland has ego, the industry this individual works in (music) has so much more.

The bit that I found the most interesting is their belief they knew how everything worked and how they could make things work even better than people who literally have done that job for decades. Oh, that and their ability to have selective memory loss about their own history.

I’m not doubting they’re very good but I did highlight to him that anything is easy for someone who hasn’t done it before and doesn’t have to do it … so while I acknowledge their perspective, I would hate for anyone to write them off for their naive recommendations. Now he doesn’t know if I’m a friend or a foe – which is better than him viewing me as his order taker, which Is – according to others – his default mode.

Comment by Rob

You’ll never be a friend, just a foe they have to work with more carefully. Standard music/film/agency ego practice.

Comment by Pete

This post should be named “how to deal with Campbell”

Comment by Billy Whizz

Great post Rob.
We all have egos, but when there is no self-awareness, that is when it becomes problematic. Ironically, the people I’ve worked with who are widely regarded as being the best in their field, are the ones with the least amount of ego. They know what they want. They are demanding in their standards. But they have never closed themselves off to other opinion, which is why they are so good.

Comment by George

It does seem that way doesn’t it

Demanding for standards is better than demanding for personal gain … that’s the difference.

Comment by Rob

blah blah fucking blah.

Comment by andy@cynic

How is William these days?

Comment by John

pot. kettle. fucking black.

Comment by andy@cynic

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