Egotism Brings the Worst Out of People

Sep 17 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

We meet various people across our lifetimes. Some are outgoing and opinionated; others are humble and down to earth. Yet others are egotistical creatures who feel entitled without any real title bestowed upon them – these I find annoying. A good example is people who cut lines. The other day, this lady walked past those of us waiting in line for the elevator. She felt like she had to go in first and the saddest part was that she neither asked for our permission nor apologised for her behaviour.

It is not just her. I met many people with inflated egos this week. The other day, as I was getting my shoes shined, the shoeshine boy could not stop talking about himself. He kept on and on about how good he was at cleaning shoes and acquiring many customers. To add to my disappointment, he told me his previous customer gave him 200 Br for the New Year holiday, and they always tip him generously. He said a person should stick to one shoeshine who knows the ins and outs of the person’s shoes.

I said I clean my own shoes most of the time and I do not choose any specific shoeshine boy; I pick one on my way. When he was done, he said he hoped I would give him a generous tip like that of his customers. I laughed. First, a tip comes from a customer’s satisfaction, willingly, without being forced, and without being required to do so. I was not exactly satisfied with the way he cleaned my shoes.

When I gave him the usual 20 Br, he did not seem happy. He told me to add more and went on to say, "I was hoping you would give me a bonus for the holiday as well.”

Whoever told him that?

This was the first time he served me. He believed he was the best in his line of work and therefore he should get paid more than others. The attitude might be good for him but an insult to the customer, who is in charge of evaluating his work. This feeling of being entitled also makes people decide for others because they think they know better and can speak for others. I think those people suffer from self-grandiosity. I wonder what goes on in their heads when they decide and act on behalf of others.

Egotism makes people assume that they know everything, even when ignorant. Forget being modest, but we could talk about the areas we are good at (sometimes these areas could be many). Giving ungrounded explanations based on very little knowledge one has is simply embarrassing.

I have seen people speaking publicly to a crowd about a subject they have no clue about, perhaps except for a name or very few facts they overheard but did not understand. One hears them saying it proudly and even bragging, but the truth is they should be embarrassed about not researching the topic. If we say from the beginning that we are not an expert and do not know much about the topic, then that is acceptable, but walking around like we are Google is unforgivable.

I remember this guy I knew a while back. We talked about our work experience, and he told me he had worked as an interpreter for years. I was dismayed, considering he often comes to another mutual friend whenever he was given interpretation work. I used to think he was doing it to help out a friend or something and did not take him seriously. He was talking proudly about his work and how good he was.

Meanwhile, anyone who sees his work says he is terrible at it. I did not have the stomach to pop the fantasy bubble he was in at that moment but I promised myself that I would have a conversation with him some other time.

Unfortunately, there are others that often underestimate their potential; they believe they are not good enough as they are constantly comparing themselves with people even more talented. These kinds of people lack confidence.

It reminds me of Bertrand Russell’s quote, “the whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

PUBLISHED ON Sep 17,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1168]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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