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Navigate Working Alongside Big Egos in the Workplace

In healthcare, everyone plays an essential role. Depending on the services offered, healthcare organizations need doctors, nurses, scrub techs, medical assistants, custodial staff, surgical staff, kitchen and food workers, dieticians, and other crucial team members. 

While everyone’s roles are important, sometimes you may encounter someone with a big ego or superiority complex. This person may hold many credentials and certifications and believe their additional training makes them entitled. Or the individual may have worked at the organization a long time and have an ego through their years of experience.

Regardless of the person’s background, working alongside someone with a big ego in the workplace can be challenging. So, here are three tips to help you navigate big personalities. 

Respectfully Stand Up for Yourself

Standing up for yourself is easier said than done. However, the behavior will likely continue if you allow someone to walk all over you or talk down to you and you say nothing. There’s a difference between respectfully standing up for yourself and becoming confrontational. For example, if a surgeon yells at you for having the wrong kind of sutures and regularly raises their voice or escalates the situation, respond calmly but assertively. Don’t yell back and add additional tension.

If you grabbed the wrong sutures, consider apologizing and acknowledging your mistake while asking them not to yell at you again. You’re human. We all make mistakes. However, no one should yell at you or talk down to you over mistakes. Assure the provider you will note what they prefer so that it does not happen again, and also stand up for yourself by asking them to please not yell at you. Everyone deserves a respectful work environment regardless of their role.

Collaborate with Leadership

No one likes a tattletale. But if you’ve stood up for yourself several times and the same individual is not respecting you, you may need additional help. When you approach leadership, it’s important to have a solution-driven mindset. Instead of using the conversation as a venting session, explain the problem and what you have done to correct it and ask for help with brainstorming solutions. Collaboration will help you build relationships with your leadership and team members.

You may never be friends with the individual(s) causing you stress at work. But going into leadership simply seeking punitive action or complaining won’t help you build bridges. However, if others are also having similar issues with the same individual, your leadership team may be able to take additional action. Also, a toxic work environment can become a safety issue for patients. Everyone on the team needs to feel that they can speak up — and that starts with having a team where everyone respects each other.

Avoid Passive Aggressiveness

When someone has hurt you, it is normal to feel angry and maybe want the person who hurt you to feel bad, too. While responding with passive aggressiveness to someone with an ego may be tempting, this is rarely a solution. 

You might feel good momentarily if you make a snide remark that gets others to chuckle. But this attitude won’t build a team mentality and may only worsen your situation. Additionally, you may end up in trouble as well if the person with the ego goes and talks to your supervisor.

Key Takeaways

Working with someone with an ego is tough. You may not feel respected by them, they may put you down, and a superiority complex does not work well in a team environment. Remember that instead of stooping to their level and fighting snide comments with snide comments, take the higher road. Assertively but respectfully, stand up for yourself. If that doesn’t work, approach leadership with a collaborative mindset, demonstrating your willingness to work on the issue. By remaining respectful yourself and going through the proper channels, you stand a better chance of getting help if the situation escalates. The person may be important to the organization. However, every healthcare organization’s bottom line depends on patient safety. You may have more sway if the person’s ego affects patient safety.

And ultimately, if all else fails, you can always explore a different unit or work environment. One option to consider is contract healthcare staffing. Contract staffing allows you to get to know several work environments or pick up back-to-back contracts at the same facility. You get to know the team and work environment and can determine if the facility is somewhere you would like to work long-term before applying for a job. Or, you may enjoy a constant change of scenery and choose to travel as your long-term employment.

To explore exciting contract healthcare positions in California or Georgia, check out our career portal