How dare they be rude to me?

My caged Ego escaped last week. It bared its ugly teeth and snarled. I was not paying attention and in a split second, it happened. All it took was an email (that I read too much into) for this caged beast ‘Ego’ to awaken from its slumber and come racing out, ready to bite.

I made many assumptions and created many stories in my head before the beast got away from me. “What a rude response…”; “They are not interested or putting in any effort and expect me to magically make this happen…”; “I don’t want to work on this particular assignment if they don’t engage collaboratively…” “My colleagues are marked cc on this email, what will they think of me if I don’t take this up seriously…” and a host of other similar mental conversations got the beast riled up, angry, and raging inside me.

Adding to the problem was the fact that this email popped up while I was on an online call. I glanced at it (which was another mistake) and then immediately got sucked into this make-believe world where my ego was in danger of being bruised and I had to fight to protect it. The quality of my participation in the meeting I was in obviously took a beating. When the Ego comes out nobody wins. Not me. Not those around me. 

I know that it knows no better. It’s simply trying to protect me and keep me safe. But it forgets that I am already in a safe place and I don’t need its help. When I’m out in the wilderness and I sense danger then it can be of help. But losing emotional control and letting the ego run wild in the corporate jungle does more damage than good.

The only smart thing that I did was to control myself from dashing off an angry response to this imagined attack with a cc to everyone copied. I closed the email and tried to calm myself down. I had somehow with great difficulty got a hold of the leash that had the ego at the other end. It was still not back in the cage, but at least it was reigned in. 

It took a few conversations with myself and others involved before the beast was back in the cage. I asked questions. Clarified some assumptions. And finally made peace with the person concerned (who had done none of the things I imagined). This Ego escape cost me time and energy that I could have saved if I had been a bit better at keeping it locked up. The good news is the project is back on track and the ego is back where it belongs.

A timely reminder to myself to focus on the work and not get unnecessarily worked up. To ask questions, before making assumptions. To be kinder to myself and those around me. It is a privilege and a blessing to have the opportunity to do good and meaningful work.

How does this link to my world of reputation building? It all starts with me – my reputation and relationships are defined by how I behave. My actions speak louder than my words, but words matter too. A message from the universe to focus on the message house. What is it saying to me?

With the Ego locked up, it’s talking sense again. “Keep it simple. Focus on the work at hand.” ; “Tune out the noise and the distractions. Take accountability and find a way to deliver value.”; “Solve problems, don’t create them.”

How careless of me to let my ‘Ego’ escape. I am glad its back on the leash again. I must work hard to hold on to it else I will be in for a rude awakening.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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