Watch Out for

A group of friends decides to go hiking in the mountains. They are all inexperienced hikers, so they choose an easy trail. Half way up, they run into a storm. It gets dark as a torrential downpour begins. Most of the group decides to head back down the trail, worried about the storm. Two in the group decide to keep going. They laugh about the "quitters," and boast that the storm will not hold them back. These two let their egos make their decision. Instead of thinking rationally, they choose to be seen as the strong, fearless members of the group. In doing so, they put themselves at risk of serious harm.

Ego in this scenario does not mean simply an awareness of self, but rather a feeling of superiority in relation to others. Every individual should have a healthy vision of his or her abilities, strengths, and shortcomings. Trouble comes when that vision is inflated and it becomes a part of the decision-making process. The two hikers did not consider the loss of traction on a muddy trail, the possibility of lightning striking in the woods, or of getting lost in the darkness. Their choice to continue hiking and to ignore their own limitations was based on ego.

Business people can also get into trouble with their egos when they worry too much about how they appear to others. For example, a shop owner in a mall is approached by the other shop owners about contributing to a new website to market their businesses. Although she is having cash flow problems and sales are down, she gives them $10,000, just to "prove" that her business is doing well and she has the money. Like the hikers, she makes a decision based on ego. As a result, she must borrow money to pay her rent and utilities and cannot order the inventory she needs.

Your ego can also cause problems when it causes you to refrain from acting. If a coworker comes to you with a criticism of your performance, you might try to dismiss it in an effort to uphold your reputation. However, the criticism may be valid and indicate a problem that you can easily correct. Perhaps you have been told that there are too many spelling errors in your weekly reports to your superior. By dismissing the criticism, you lose the opportunity to make a small adjustment in your report writing (running the spell check feature before you print it out) and turn out a superior product in the future. Aim to take criticism objectively and openly. Listen carefully without getting defensive, and then determine whether the problem requires any action on your part.

Friendly Persuasion

Friendly Persuasion

To do this successfully you need to build a clear path of action by using tools if necessary. These tools would be facts, evidence and stories which you know they can relate to. Plus you always want to have their best interests at heart, in other words, you know what is good for them

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