Friday, July 8, 2011

Communicate With An Egomaniac

 Attempting to communicate with an ego maniac is somewhat akin to dealing with a hangover. At time it can be highly unpleasant, it can serve as confirmation that your time was unwisely spent, and at its worst, it can make you feel like either jumping from a cliff or pushing the ego maniac into the path of an oncoming bus (or, with reversing the order, perhaps even both). In any case, it is a challenge that can be successfully met, but not without a bit of deftness.

We are all familiar with the classic ego maniac. They are overstuffed with their own self-important image. They are often ruthless and manipulating, generally have a sense of entitlement, seek and use power for its own sake, and are often intimidating and explosive. They are quite often bullies, either physical, intellectual, or both. Some are brilliantly successful and will sprint unimpeded to the very top, some will self-destruct  in a quick and ugly flash of personal or professional conflagration. Nevertheless, they are out there and we must deal with them. They are our colleagues, our bosses, our family, friends and adversaries, and we will generally find ourselves better off if we can communicate effectively with them.

Easier said than done, right?

Of course. But let's assume that it is indeed in our self-interest to find and effective way to communicate with an ego maniac. How should we proceed?

White it's not an exact science, you might consider the following suggestions?
  • When making a proposal or suggestion, let them think it's their idea. Once they see the logic. allow them to take it and run with it. quietly shift the ownership to them, and add comments that augment the brilliance of what is now proudly their own.
  • Focus on solution, not problems. Nobody wants problems thrown over the wall and dumped into their laps. Bring well-considered recommendation to deal with each of the problems. Always look to solve, not shirk.
  • Provide options. Be prepared to offer your own favored course of action, along with your reasoning, but don't necessarily expect an ego maniac to pay attention to it. However, a vigorous defense of your recommendation is sometimes respected by just such a person Again, don't expect too much.
  • Allow them all the credit . They need it more than you. Don't fight over this, and by all means don't fight their ego with yours.
  • Remember that they have little empathy. Here, with deftness, you can provide an opinion on how a decision may impact others, including yourself. If you don't bring it up, they'll likely never see it. It's a huge blind spot for them which you can turn and then work to your advantage.

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