Recognising Challenging Personality Differences: Part 2 – Egos

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In this, the second of our four part ‘Recognising Challenging Personality Differences’ series, we look more closely at the ‘ego’ personality types, who appear at stage two on  Levinson’s list of personality phases.

Typical ego behaviour

Egos exhibit behaviour which is much akin to that of a child. The ego personality phase develops from the amoral phase at the age of about two. This personality type manifests itself in a belief that other people are in their lives only to serve them. They are continuously preoccupied with their own wants and needs and lack any consideration for the feelings or needs or others. They also like to push people to the limit just to get a reaction.

Characteristics of the ego phase include:

  • Possessiveness
  • Attention seeking
  • A need for control
  • Violence
  • Brashness
  • A tendency to be maliciously destructive

The development of the ego phase

The first sign of the onset of the ego phase are temper tantrums, which coincide with the infamous “terrible twos”. It is during this phase that children develop their language skills, and with this comes the ability to ask for what they want. They are also learning how to assert themselves and are constantly gauging the limits of their behaviour. There are two words which are indicative of the ego phase of personality development: “mine” and “no!”

When egocentric behaviour is pushed to excessive limits it becomes socially unhealthy. We’ve all seen toddlers in the supermarket in the midst of a screaming fit simply because they are not getting their own way. It is partly the embarrassment and discomfort associated with this behaviour which often leads to the parent caving in. How do we react to this behaviour? Well, there’s an innate part in all of us that just wants to send them to bed without any dinner!

The ego phase in adulthood

The problem is that between 30-40 percent of the population never properly progress through the ego phase and go on to exhibit the behaviours discussed above as adults. In adulthood, ego personality types are extremely status conscious and preoccupied with their class. They are also emotionally manipulative and demanding and would not think twice about a “break-up” just to “make-up” approach to relationships as an attempt to assert their dominance and make their own rules. This can easily develop into an endless cycle of conflict and resolution, without any appreciation of the damage this may do to their relationships.

Marketing to egos

Marketing is a particularly effective tool to hook individuals who exhibit this personality phase, as long as you appeal to their ego. They need to know that you are good enough for them to bother, so it is essential you demonstrate your leadership from the off. Play them at their own game. Don’t hold back and stay smooth and positive throughout. Let them know that you’re best, and only represent the best – they’ll soon come flocking.

It’s just a phase

It is important to stress that these behaviours are not exhibited in every situation; nor are they a permanent box from which people are unable to escape. Instead, it is best to consider these behaviours as a response to a specific set of circumstances or particular situation.

It is entirely likely you will encounter people who exhibit ego phase behaviours in a business setting, and then transform into completely different people and enter in different personality phases when at home with their friends and family.

It is even possible for the same person to enter into a different personality phase depending on what they are buying. If an individual knows a lot about the product or service they are purchasing, they may well exhibit behaviours from the authority phase. On the other hand, if they feel a sense of kinship with the salesperson, or perhaps they are attracted to them, they may well enter the pleaser phase. If they feel at a lost and are struggling to understand the product features of a product, they might resort to the ego phase.

What are your experiences of the ego phase?

Have you had a particularly noteworthy sales experience with an egocentric individual? How did you overcome their objections? We’d love to hear your thoughts on our Recognising Challenging Personality Differences series. Please contact us today, or leave your comments below.

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