For the most part, people don’t understand egos. When our counterpart has an ego, we don’t like it. We call folks with over-inflated egos “self-absorbed narcissists” who don’t think about anything other than themselves.
However, over-inflated egos come from a very emotional place. Often, people with big egos are struggling in some way with their identity. They might be a pain to deal with, but if you understand where they’re coming from, bring the right mindset to the conversation, and keep your own ego in check, dealing with an individual like this becomes simple. You just need to take the right approach.
Where Does Ego Come From?
In most cases, ego is tied to past trauma. However, folks can also develop big egos because they see themselves as infallible or have gotten so much attention over the years and held onto it.
When someone has a big ego, their reactions will be more pronounced. If you react emotionally to them, they will come back at you much harder, and you’ll feel like you’ve been dragged through the mud.
Preparation Is Key
When you know your counterpart has a big ego, head into the conversation with an understanding of what you hope to get out of the interaction. Once you determine how you want the conversation to go, you can develop some go-to Labels™ and Calibrated Questions™.
In any negotiation, emotions aren’t necessarily bad, but negative emotions absolutely are. Most emotions tied to an over-inflated ego come from a negative place. This is why it’s so important to be prepared and understand how to avoid attacking your counterpart’s ego, which will trigger an emotional reaction you want no part of.
When dealing with a big ego, it’s essential to show deference. If you challenge your counterpart's ego, they will perceive it as an attack and hit you right back. Depending on how severe they perceive the attack, they may cut you off, dismiss you from the room, or even sever ties with you forever.
How to Respond to Someone with a Big Ego
Next time your counterpart has a big ego, here’s what you need to do:
- Label yourself in your mind: It seems like I’m dealing with someone with a huge ego. Once you’ve reached that conclusion, shut up and listen. If you interrupt, they will snap at you, and the interaction will be ruined.
- Use Mirrors™, Labels, and Dynamic Silence™: Lean on the Quick 2+1™. People with big egos will talk all day long-which means you’re the one gathering all the information You just need to show them deference and keep the conversation all about them.
- Use Tactical Empathy®: People with big egos care about how they are perceived. Show them that you understand their desire to be liked, and use a positive tone to demonstrate that you’re non-threatening and subservient to them.
- Lean on flattery: The more things you say positively about your counterpart and negatively about yourself, the better off you’ll be. An Accusation Audit® can work well here. You make the other side feel good by addressing their negative feelings toward you, or the situation, head-on.
- Ask Calibrated Questions™: Give the other side the illusion of control by asking thought-shaping questions: What do you think we should do about this? With the right approach, your counterpart will come to your conclusion while feeling like they’re in the driver’s seat.
Even if you approach the conversation the smartest way, the other side may still blow up about something. Such is life. If anything goes wrong, take full responsibility for it (especially if it’s their fault). You’ll earn brownie points for allowing them to save face.
Flattery Gets You Everywhere
It bears repeating: Negotiators with massive egos love flattery. Feed that ego!
Although it might seem scary to go against someone with a big ego, it’s actually a piece of cake. They are assertive, and they can rattle you if you let them. But if you understand the animal you’re dealing with and how to feed them, it’ll be one of the easiest interactions you have ever had.
To learn more about the Black Swan skills you can use to battle over-inflated egos and live to tell the tale, check this out.