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  • Alessandra Corrêa

Be mindful of your ego.

Atualizado: 23 de jul. de 2023

When asked in an online mentoring session how to decide whether to continue in a position or accept a job offer, a friend of mine who is an entrepreneur, mentor, consultant, and advisor highlighted one aspect of her response: Watch your ego. And she is correct.

The ego is a poor guide and a terrible counselor.

It is all too easy to confuse an inflated ego with self-confidence. Self-awareness is key for understanding how to make this distinction.

Self-confidence comes from within, from preparation, from hard work. It comes from results. Self-confidence comes from the realization that there is always room for improvement, from our work on ourselves, and from our desire to be and become better every day. Even with mistakes and stumbles along the way, if you are humble, you will learn from those mistakes. You will know that the stumble was to teach you where there are stones on the way and avoid them, go around them, climb them, or even dynamite them next time. What matters is that you will be better prepared to deal with them when they come your way. And they will. There is no path without stones.

The ego, on the other hand, has external sources of nourishment and growth. It needs praise, pats on the back, special treatment. If praise does not come, the ego is shaken. By instilling a false sense of confidence in us, we become fragile, susceptible, vulnerable easily influenced.

The ego affects us in many ways. When we let it grow and when we need it to feel good, we often surround ourselves with people who always agree with us. If we are in a leadership position, we set up teams and create environments where there is no room for debate between different points of view. In addition to being highly negative for our decision-making processes, this behavior creates environments in which creativity cannot survive.

Egocentrism is a cognitive bias that negatively influences our decisions and can be harmful in negotiations. Our perceptions, interpretations, judgments, desires, and expectations are formed in a self-centered, selfish way. According to studies, the same facts and information lead us to various conclusions and interpretations depending on the function we are performing.

In decision-making processes, it is common to first decide for something that benefits us and then search for arguments that not only justify our decision, but also give it a fair aspect. In order to justify our decisions and continue to consider ourselves fair people, we adjust the aspects analyzed for decision making until, in our own eyes, we have the most positive image possible.

Egocentrism makes us overlook the other person's point of view, opinions, needs and expectations. If we let it "run wild", it can escalate and lead us to distrust the other. If the person we are negotiating with makes a demand and we are trapped in our own point of view, we are likely to doubt the other person's genuine intentions and assume they're out to take advantage of us.

This is all, of course, done unconsciously. What to do then?

Always make a checklist for yourself: am I considering my interlocutor's point of view? Is it possible that I am being self-centered? Am I allowing compliments or special treatment to inflate my ego? Is the environment I'm creating welcoming to new ideas?

It is natural to be pleased with comments and to want to feel special. We should not try to avoid it. The ego is a part of who we are, but it must be constantly monitored.

By Alessandra Corrêa

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