By Caroline Smith and the Mind Tools Team
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Egos at Work

Managing a Co-Worker's Superiority Complex

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There's a difference between a big ego and confidence.

Egos – we all have them! They're part of what makes us want authority and status, and what gives us confidence. Egos drive our need to be recognized for our accomplishments. This is perfectly normal. But what happens when someone's ego goes too far? 

You know the type: the colleague who will do just about anything to claim credit or gain power; the person who takes over every discussion and tries to grab the spotlight; or the team member who continually criticizes other people's ideas. These people are undermining the team's mission with their behavior.

Ego is at the root of many workplace issues. From poor communication to failed negotiation, to faulty decision making, ego can lay a dangerous path of destruction. The obnoxious and overbearing behavior that comes with it can damage creativity, undermine effective problem solving, cause stress, and adversely impact morale.

Many of us know how hard it is to work with – or for – egotistic people. Unfortunately, there's a good chance you'll encounter this trait in a colleague, boss, or customer at some point in your career. After all, the competitive nature of the workplace can naturally cause people to look out for themselves. To protect yourself, you need to manage and contain these larger-than-life personalities.

But first, how do you know you're dealing with an oversized ego and not just a healthy dose of confidence and assertiveness? Watch for some of these common egotistical behaviors:...

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