Me and My Big Fat Ego

by Laura Kalbag

8 Reader Comments

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  1. Thanks for this post Laura! I believe taking an iterative approach getting feedback from clients early and often helps keep helps often keep ego at bay as the further down the chain the more likely we are to attach our ego to our work not to mention it allows the client to provide critical feedback before it is too late.
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  2. Hey Laura - you have the least ego of any designer I have worked with. It’s always a pleasure to exchange ideas with you. But I wonder now whether that’s because you are just really good at hiding your frustration with idiot clients (ahem!). But if you do anything creative, even writing, you have to embed a bit of yourself in everything you do and that means any feedback, especially daft feedback, is going to be hard to take on some level.
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  3. Thanks Michael, I absolutely agree. A disappointing “Big Reveal” can be like popping the balloon of your inflated ego… Matthew, it’s so fun to have a real client commenting on my writing about client work! I don’t think I’m very egotistical, I think self-esteem is fragile but I’m becoming experienced enough to know better… My frustration is usually something that reflects on me, and my actions, far more than that of a client. Feedback can be hard to take, but daft feedback is rarely cruel. It’s useful to have the benefit of somebody else’s angle. Tempering your ego isn’t really hiding anything, I think it’s more checking yourself when your emotional reaction to criticism gets in the way of doing good work.
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  4. Great article!  The easiest way I keep my ego in check is to remind myself that design is iterative.  In a previous life I was a weather forecaster.  I always tell people that I hated that job because I was always wrong AND I could never change my answer (once the day is over, changing your forecast is kinda pointless).  At least with design you can look at each criticism as a new piece of information that will help you reach the “right” answer.
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  5. Great Post! Clients and designers can both benefit when they leave their ego’s out of the equation and focus on the best solution, rather than focusing on proving their initial thoughts are the right ones. Its important to remember that ego is not the entirety of our mind. Ego is separate from conscious thought, and conscious thought is where all of our problem solving abilities are found. Ego only knows how to judge, that’s it, it can not do anything else. If you approach clients with your ego the only thoughts you will have are ones of judgment. However, if you approach them with your conscious mind you can easily organize all the pertinent and current information in your mind allowing you to provide feedback to them that has the projects best interest in mind rather than your ego. Updated and organized knowledge gives you a big boost of confidence in presenting your work, giving you the courage to put yourself out there. Courage that is based on reality, unlike bravado which provides courage based on your ego’s fantasies. If you are unsure of what thoughts are ego and which are of your conscious mind here is a quick test you can use: if your thoughts contain “I”, or “me”, or “you” or “they” etc. then you are thinking with your ego.
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  6. Nice post Laura. Much of your post resonates with me. I give my team members the space to try and try again as it is important that they get to make their mark. I don’t mind healthy egos as it breeds confidence which is important for our service. Most stakeholders like to feel this confidence from us. When someone gets a bit cheeky though, this highlights to me that they’re ready for bigger challenges which tends to keep people humble. An important thing is when a designer fails, I frame this to them as a ‘lesson’ and ensure that I can be there to pick things up for them. I’m fortunate I am like my team - we’re all challengers…as a former colleague expressed to me a long time ago - ‘history tends to favour the brave’.
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  7. Really good reading, Laura. It’s one thing for us to remember to temper our ego lest we are crushed under its inimitable weight, however, we should all remember we have one, too! Sometimes I do forget - working in an environment with voices that are somewhat louder than mine - that I’m allowed to be a bit showy-offy (yes, that’s a thing) since I’m employed as ‘The Expert’. It’s never nice to have someone pooh-pooh your work outright and the massive ego-knock you get from such ‘feedback’ is always a shocker. As other posters have said, everything should be taken forward as a lesson; good feedback and bad.
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  8. Interesting article. It’s all too easy to allow yourself to fall into the know it all mindset all when it comes to working with clients who can barely turn their computers on, let alone understand what makes a good website. I find it ultimately comes down to educating clients instead of just preaching at them about why some of their ideas wont work. Both sides have to compromise though because clients can also let their ego get the better of them when they believe all their ideas are amazing and they have hired you to implement them.
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