by Tom Isler | December 01, 2006

Susan DebnamWhen overblown egos overpower the workplace, every day can feel like Bring Your Kid To Work Day. Susan Debnam, right, author of Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: Understanding and Handling Egos at Work (, explains how to rise above the childish power struggles.

Shoot straight. Stick to the facts when challenging an egotist’s ill-advised decision or assignment. Don’t get personal or judgmental.

Don’t play the blame game. Egotists are easily antagonized. “Don’t descend into the spiral of sarcasm, blame and unpleasantness,” Debnam says. Forgo gossip, too; healthy working relationships require trust.

Be honest. Even ego-driven people deserve praise sometimes. Give it to them, but avoid sycophancy, which will only make matters worse.

Know thyself. Egotists crave power and recognition. “Everything they do is underpinned by ‘How does this look?’ and ‘How does this affect my career?’ ” Debnam says. Before confronting anyone about his or her ego problem, step back and make sure this description doesn’t apply to you.