Monday, May 27, 2024


My daughter goes to boarding school in South Africa but flies home every fortnight or so.
We have our routine down so apart from when the flights are not on time (far too frequently unfortunately) travel back and forward is relatively hassle free because we know the procedure.

So when I dropped her off at the airport this week and said my goodbyes, I naturally presumed everything was in order.

It wasn’t because the Immigration Department suddenly decided to change the rules and not inform the Air Botswana staff or their customers. Half way driving back into town I received a call asking me to come to the airport as she needed a letter to allow her to leave the country.

This was a new one on me and everyone else and when I got to the airport we were further hampered by security not allowing any of us confused parents through to the immigration section.

Instead, we witnessed their staff argue with Immigration staff about how to solve the problem and whose rule was more important, Security not allowing non-passengers beyond their check point or the new immigration requirement for parents to complete unaccompanied minors forms at the counter.

All the while we, the customers, being at the bottom of this particular food chain, were left
standing, stranded from our children whilst the heated discussion went on, Catch 22, complete impasse and the main cause of the confusion and chaos was that no one had even bothered to advise check-in staff about the new rules so we were all left in the dark.

The new rule is totally unworkable for many reasons but that is not the purpose of this article, which is the force of human nature in the workplace. I couldn’t help but observe the egos at play.
It’s all too familiar in business and gets in the way of customer service where people take a stand for their rules and their job, all too frequently at the expense of the customer. I so often get the feeling from the service providers that they are the important ones and we are a secondary irritating interruption to their work.

I even heard a cashier sigh the other day when I handed over a P200 note and she didn’t have change ÔÇô it was going to require her to get up and stretch to the cashier next to her ÔÇô all just too much effort and instead of an apology for not having done her job by making sure she had change in the first place. She looked at me as if I was an inconsiderate moron for not having a more convenient denomination on me.

Egos – we all have them!

They’re part of our desire for authority and status, and what gives us confidence. Egos drive our need to be recognised for our accomplishments. This is perfectly normal.

But repeatedly workers’ egos go 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 criticises other people’s ideas. These people are undermining the team’s mission with their selfish behaviour.

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

And what if you work with or for egotistic people, who don’t let you forget for one minute that they are the important ones? I am sure you’ve all encountered these traits in a colleague, boss.
After all, the competitive nature of the workplace can naturally cause people to look out for and protect themselves and we need to manage and contain these larger-than-life personalities.
How do you know you’re dealing with an oversized ego? Watch for some of these common egotistical behaviors:

Wanting or demanding credit for every idea.

Using “I” and “me” (instead of “we” and “us”) almost exclusively.
Dominating conversations and meetings.
Reminding others of their superiority or excellence (real or perceived).
Stopping others from expressing their ideas.
Rewarding those who support them (and perhaps punishing those who don’t).
Bullying, or trying to exert power they don’t really have.

Where it gets tricky is that the natural reaction when dealing with egos and people who are just so full of their importance is to want to bring them down by showing them they aren’t that important. But big egos go ballistic if they are threatened in that way.

My number one piece of advice on this is: These people feed on you pleading with them. They love it when you beg or defer, it makes them feel important. So the best way to hurt these egomaniacs is to hit up with the silent treatment.

To use an old Russell Peters joke it’s like when you ask an English person where they’re from and they say “England”, (i.e. the centre of the universe) and you respond with the ultimate put down: “Where’s that?”

So what did I do at the airport?

Every ounce of me wanted to shout out. ‘Oh, for goodness sake find a quick compromise, who cares for your silly rules and who is most important? But I took the road less travelled and did nothing ÔÇô as they say, don’t sweat the small stuff otherwise it will consume you. And that goes for small people too because clearly I’m above all that!

Agree or disagree with this? Don’t twitter amongst yourselves ÔÇô tweet your chirps to HYPERLINK “”
*STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on Phone: 395 1640 or on HYPERLINK “”

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