Difficult Conversations Part Three: Prepare Your Ego

The ego as a concept was asserted a long time ago by a guy named Sigmund Freud. While groundbreaking, his definition is a bit outdated. Now, we mostly associate it with someone who is super confident, full of themselves, or even narcissistic in their ways. But, it also describes the part in each of us that is out in front of our personality: how we define ourselves, our self-esteem, our self-image. And, as such, it is also the protective part of us that tries to keep us strong and undamaged.

Our egos can help us get through tough situations but it can also dig a deeper hole if we don’t keep it in check.

Here are a couple of tips for keeping your managing your ego during a tough conversation:

  1. Always remember that someone else’s opinion is just that, their opinion. And just because someone thinks something negative about you, it doesn’t make it true.

  2. When someone says something to you that hits a nerve, it can be extremely hard to hold your tongue but sometimes, that’s the best response. It’s our ego that’s trying to protect us and wants to lash out at the person with an equal or greater negative response. But that might make things worse.

  3. Keep your long-term goals in mind. Do you want a peaceful relationship with this person? Then, try to listen for understanding without getting defensive. If your goal is to be at peace then winning takes on a different look and feel.

  4. Take a breath and let it pass.

I encourage you to give these ideas some thought when you have some time alone. The more you think about how you want to be, the better prepared you’ll be when the tough times come.

 For more tips on handling difficult conversations, check out Parts One and Two.