Dealing with self importance on your professional journey is simply something that is going to happen. There are all kinds of toxic employers, co-workers, and customers, but someone who displays an intense amount of self importance could potentially be the most detrimental to your work. What does self importance look like? Let’s take a look…
What is the definition of a self important person?
We’ve all met someone like this before…this is the type who’s work comes first. I don’t mean that in the sense that work comes first in their life, but that the work they do comes before everyone else’s work (and their lives)! A self important person is someone who is just too serious, and who thinks what they do is the be all and end all of their life. You’ll often hear this type of person complaining about how busy they are, how late they worked last night, or how they missed their child’s soccer practice because they had to finish some reports.
How does a self important person act, specifically?
Working with a self important person can be very difficult, especially when that person is in a management/direct supervision role, because they simply get in the way of your work! This is the kind of person who comes to your desk, demands your attention, and moves everything you’ve been working on out of the way to complete their singular task. To be quite frank, it’s selfish. A self important person takes themselves too seriously, and always risks being a martyr for the work they do. They will tell you how busy they are, as though you weren’t busy yourself, and how important it is to clear everything else you have to do what they need (or, at the very least, hear about how their work is taking over their life and is the basis of all of their problems).
How do I deal with someone who displays self importance?
Dealing with someone who is self important is all about not taking yourself too seriously. That’s because you always need to address the situation with compassion, and try to understand why that person feels a certain way. Displaying self importance typically points to a lack of confidence, or a work/life deficiency that this person is over-compensating for by making work the central tenet of their life.
Here are just some of the ways you can deal with someone who is just too serious…
Don’t make it a competition
The last thing you want to do is get into a shouting match over who is busier, which is why you should never tell a self important person about how busy you are at present. You can certainly speak in facts (“I am currently doing this report,” instead of “I’m so busy doing this report.”) in order to diffuse situations.
Don’t talk behind their back
If someone is taking their work too seriously, or getting in the way of your work, the last thing you want to do is go behind their back and talk to your co-workers about their behaviour. In general, it’s not a good look, and it will make you look petty. The best thing you can do is to keep this sort of dynamic between yourself, and this troublesome co-workers. Telling tales out of school will not get you very far.
Patience is key
Someone who is self-important is really just looking for someone to listen. Therefore, you should consider exercising patience and hearing what they have to say. If it does get in the way of your work though…
Set clear boundaries
At some point, you might need to let this person know that they have gone to far. This doesn’t mean you should start a scene in the middle of the office, but it does mean that you might have to take them off to the side. Let them know how you feel, without being accusatory, and that what they’re doing is diminishing you and distracting you from the work you need to get done.
What is the key to making sure I don’t become self important?
That’s easy: never take life too seriously! Someone who is full of self importance is letting their work life dominate their social life — it’s all they can think about, after all! Having a healthy work/life balance is central in any profession. This means taking time for yourself, keeping away from doing work during off-hours, and investing in things that make you feel good outside of work. If you let work dominate your life, and disrupt that balance, then self importance begins to creep in. Chances are, if it does, you might not be invited for drinks after work for much longer.
Finally, and to borrow from art critic John Ruskin, a quote about being too serious, and how it can diminish your quality of life: “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small parcel.” Don’t diminish the overall value of your life by becoming wrapped up in work, and understand that the people who do need your time and patience in order to figure themselves out, too.