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Almost all of us have to deal with egocentric coworkers or bosses at one point in our careers. People who are egocentric are not only self-absorbed; they often have an inability to see the world from another person's point of view. While you might feel a range of emotions when you encounter egocentrics, you don't have to let them take over your life and disrupt your work.
Keep Your Cool
Dealing with egocentric people can trigger a range of emotions. You might feel aggravated, frustrated or angry. It can be hard to understand how people can be so self-aggrandizing or blind to their own shortcomings. But it's important to keep cool and not allow your colleague or boss to get the better of you. You might be tempted to enlighten him and cue him into his self-centered behavior, but egocentrics rarely respond to constructive criticism in this area. According to psychologists Richard Paul and Linda Elder in their book "Critical Thinking," egocentrics see those who disagree with them as wrong and unjustified. This doesn't mean you have to put up with insults or putdowns, but don't waste energy trying to change your colleague's or boss's outlook or behavior.
Be a Team Player
Instead of focusing on your egocentric colleague or boss, throw your energy into becoming a better team player, suggests O, the Oprah Magazine. Focus on the positive contributions you can make to the workplace and build on your strengths. Being a team player doesn't mean being a pushover, however. Stand up for yourself and take credit where credit is due -- don't let your egocentric colleague take the honors for your hard work. Although it can be tempting, avoid gossiping with others about your boss's or colleague's egocentrism.
Document Your Interactions
If your egocentric colleague or boss is bullying or harassing you or otherwise interfering with your work, keep an accurate written record of your interactions. Include your own accomplishments and contributions to the workplace. Documenting your interactions and keeping track of your accomplishments can protect you if your colleague or boss tries to blame you for mistakes or take credit for your successes. If necessary, you can bring your documentation to human resources if you decide to file a complaint.
Take the High Road
It might sound trite, but being the better person can help you cope and prevent your colleague or boss from getting under your skin. Avoid dwelling on your colleague's shortcomings. Let his comments slide off your back; don't take them personally. Try to focus on the positives -- even egocentrics have positive as well as negative traits. Cultivate as positive a working relationship with your colleague as possible, suggests AllBusiness.com. Avoiding negativity and maintaining a professional, positive attitude can help make working with your colleague easier.
- Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life: Richard Paul and Linda Elder
- Oprah.com: Scary Work Scenario: And I Have to Spend All Day with These People? Read more: http://www.oprah.com/money/How-to-Survive-Dysfunctional-and-Difficult-Co-workers/3#ixzz2RYruRJJv
- AllBusiness.com: Ten Tips for Dealing with Difficult Coworkers
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.
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