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Attack of the bruised ego

Clarice Bouwer

Software Engineering Team Lead and Director of Cloudsure

Monday, 30 May 2022 · Estimated 1 minute read
  1. Take feedback as objectively as possible.
  2. Don't be married to your ideas and code. Instead explore, learn, be curious and continuously grow by learning from those around you.
  3. Maintain clear, open channels of communication. It will defuse tension and clarify any confusion that may exist.

I spoke to a friend about the implementation of a particular feature in a project he is working on. I noticed that I struck a nerve when I didn't like and agree with one of his ideas. He became defensive, spewed out a string of excuses and shut out all alternative solutions I offered. It happened in the heat of the moment and was a reaction to a bruised ego from what I could tell. We spoke about it and as we did so, the tension eased and he was able to think objectively.

Put your ego aside. Just because your idea doesn't cut it, doesn't make you a bad person. It also doesn't mean that all your ideas are bad, so keep your ticker ticking.

Dangers of undesirable actions

Speaking about it immediately defused the situation! The ego is a powerful force and it drives behavior that could potentially be harmful and

  • hurt self-confidence,
  • question abilities,
  • damage relationships,
  • harm reputation in the field,
  • cause regret from uncontrolled reactions, and
  • destroy a really, really good day.

Not too far down the line it was my turn. I was speaking to a friend about an idea I had and he just didn't buy it. Trying to convince him felt brutal. He finally interjected and said that if I can't convince him, I won't be able to convince anyone else. These were my tell-tale signs of the rise of my defenses:

  • Hellish warm wealth of emotions surfaced to my face and rushed throughout my body.
  • I lost patience and became defensive.
  • My tone of voice changed to be short, abrupt and I ended up interrupting him.

I immediately neutralized this feeling when I recognized it. It gave me the power to respond in a controlled manner.