In the movie Shallow Hal, a character wearing a loud, red leather jacket asked “Is this too ‘hey, look at me?’” I think “hey look at me” is the approach some people have toward life. They spend time strutting like a peacock to garner praise from those around them.

Today, are you sharing your talents or are you instead showing off? Is your activity for the benefit of others, or for the bounty of your personal fame? Showoffs either have an exalted opinion of themselves, or they know they have missed the mark (and are trying to fill in the gap). This is a parallel to personalized vs. socialized power. Those who exhibit socialized power do so for the purpose of enhancing other people.

Conversely, power in the service of oneself is a gift to a party of one. The “show offs” are simply out for themselves, looking at ways to enhance their self-image (through legitimate or illegitimate means). They are looking for a pat on the back, an atta boy/atta girl, or any type of positive recognition. The ones with a shred of decency will look sheepishly when they know they’ve caused you shame [but will continue to persist in their course of action].

These people are self-focused, self-serving, and callous in their disregard of others. If you are faced with someone insistent on stealing the spotlight, take care to protect your assets. Behaving in a fashion that is too generous, overly helpful, and simply too “nice” gives them an entrée into your career related capital.

Prima donnas are users and opportunists. Make them jump through some hoops before you call them your friend (and, keep in mind some individuals are best considered colleagues). If you sense that someone is trying to “take over,” protect yourself by getting others involved regarding the quality of your product. A second set of eyes may be your best alibi, and a way of “syndicating the risk.” Showstoppers are always looking for the angle, even if it means undermining yours. Are your coworkers being helpful, or are they merely helping themselves up the ladder? The “hey look at mes” love to be in charge, and relish telling others what to do. The best strategy is to stay one step ahead.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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