Superiority Complex

At work, what can get a person in trouble with colleagues? Is it when he doesn’t replenish paper in the photocopier? Is it when she leaves a dirty dish in the kitchen sink to soak? Is it when he doesn’t say “hello” in the morning?

Are these things annoying? Yes. But are they the kind of actions that will give you a poor reputation in the office? Not really, at least so long as they are an occasional slip-up.

What can really rankle colleagues is when they are treated in a demeaning way. Unlike the photocopier or the dirty dish, which are passing annoyances, being treated in a dismissive or demeaning way sticks with the aggrieved person—and those who witness it—for a long time. It damages a reputation.

Here are four actions that cross the line; unforgettable actions that have a long-term impact on how discounting ideas, others view you.

Interrupting. Your colleague is in mid-sentence when you step in and start talking right over her. “Jane, let me explain the reason why…” You’ve just insulted Jane by not showing her the respect she deserves and not letting her finish. When you interrupt a person, you are saying, “You aren’t important. I am.”

Ignoring. You’re involved in a discussion with your team. Yet, throughout the discussion, you don’t look at John; you don’t draw him into the conversation; and if he tries to say something, you don’t acknowledge him. He and the others wonder why you think he isn’t there at all


Discounting ideas. As Gretchen starts outlining her conclusions, you chime in, “That’s simply not important, here’s what matters.” She is on the team to contribute, but you have just told her what she thinks is unimportant. She and the others see exactly what’s going on: you think you are superior, smarter and more important than everyone else on the team.

Not introducing people. You’re at the water cooler enjoying a ten-minute break. The new person you met recently approaches to join you and your friend. Instead of introducing him and bringing him into the conversation, you continue talking to your friend as though the newcomer isn’t even there. The newcomer can either leave or introduce himself. Either way he’s not going to forget that you didn’t think he was worth introducing to your colleague.

One of the most effective ways to combat a superior attitude is to be a good listener. Focus on the person; nod your head occasionally, ask a follow-up question or restate a point the person makes, offer a compliment. When you are a good listener you show respect for others, which, in turn, helps you build strong positive relationships in your place of work. The benefit to you: the respect of your colleagues.

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