Home » Blog » Balancing Ego and Self-Respect in Human Behaviour

Human behaviour is an enormously complex set of things, and that mixture of underlying things is different for different people, so it’s not just complex, it’s meta-complex.” – Vivienne Ming (American Neuroscientist)

Humans are all different and behave in different ways. Our behaviour is influenced by many things, like our thoughts, experiences, and emotions, which create a very complex mix of things that make us who we are. So, understanding human behaviour is not just complicated, it’s super complicated! It’s like trying to figure out a puzzle with a billion pieces, where each piece is different for every person. That’s why it’s called “meta-complex,” which basically means it’s complexity on top of complexity.

So what is human behaviour? Human behaviour refers to the range of actions, reactions, and expressions exhibited by individuals in response to various internal and external stimuli. It includes all forms of human activity, including both conscious and unconscious actions, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

It also encompasses all the ways in which humans interact with their environment, including their reactions to social, cultural, and environmental factors. Human behaviour is influenced by a variety of factors, including upbringing, education, culture, societal norms, and personal experiences. 

So today, we’ll talk about ego and self-respect, the two complex aspects of human behaviour. Ego is often perceived as a negative trait, but it’s important to understand that it’s not inherently bad. Ego makes us confident and assertive, and it helps us protect our boundaries. However, when our ego goes unchecked, it can become toxic and damage our relationships with others.

On the other hand, self-respect is the foundation of a healthy self-image. It’s the ability to recognize and honour our own needs and boundaries. It helps us maintain healthy relationships with ourselves and others. When we have self-respect, we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion, and we expect the same treatment from others.

However, the challenge is to strike a balance between ego and self-respect. It’s not an either-or situation. We need both to function effectively in the world. The key is to be aware of our ego and recognize when it’s getting in the way of our self-respect. When we are too invested in our ego, we can become defensive, aggressive, or dismissive of others’ feelings. 

Understanding the choices we make between ego and self-respect is crucial because it affects our behaviour and how we interact with others. When we prioritize our ego over our self-respect, we may compromise our values, integrity, and relationships. When we prioritize our self-respect over our ego, we set healthy boundaries and assert ourselves, but we also need to be mindful not to become too rigid or inflexible.

Let us explore the concepts of ego and self-respect and how they manifest in human behaviour while also discussing the impact of both in detail.

Understanding Ego in Human Behaviour 

Ego refers to an individual’s sense of self-importance or self-esteem. It can manifest in human behaviour in many ways, like bragging, boasting, arrogance, or entitlement. 

For instance, when someone constantly talks about their achievements, possessions, or abilities, it can indicate an inflated ego. Similarly, people who believe they are always right or refuse to listen to others’ opinions often exhibit ego-driven behaviour.

An unchecked ego can have negative consequences on human behaviour. It can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings in personal and professional relationships. If someone’s ego is hurt, they may lash out, become defensive, or blame others for their mistakes. This kind of behaviour damages trust, creates resentment and makes it difficult to resolve conflicts.

In extreme cases, unchecked ego can lead to destructive behaviours such as narcissism, aggression, or addiction. People with narcissistic tendencies may seek constant attention, admiration, or validation from others, while those with an aggressive ego may use their power or influence to dominate or control others. Ultimately, such behaviours lead to a cycle of negativity and harm for the individuals and those around them.

Understanding Self-Respect in Human Behaviour 

Self-respect refers to the belief and acknowledgement of one’s inherent worth as a human being, regardless of external factors such as achievements, status, or appearance. It is a positive feeling of self-worth and self-esteem that is crucial for maintaining mental and emotional well-being.

Human behaviour that reflects self-respect can take many forms. It may involve setting boundaries with others, standing up for oneself in the face of mistreatment or disrespect, taking care of one’s physical and mental health, and pursuing goals that align with one’s values and beliefs. For instance, someone with self-respect may decline an invitation to a party if they feel uncomfortable with the atmosphere or if it conflicts with their personal values. 

Positive consequences of self-respect can be seen in various aspects of human behaviour. People with self-respect tend to have better self-confidence, which means more positive interactions with others and greater success in achieving their goals. 

They are also more likely to make decisions that align with their personal values, leading to a sense of authenticity and purpose in life. They prioritize their own well-being and refuse to compromise their values for the sake of others. Therefore, self-respect is a vital aspect of human behaviour that contributes to a healthy and fulfilling life.

Balancing Ego and Self-Respect in Human Behaviour 

As we have seen so far, ego and self-respect are two related yet distinct concepts that impact human behaviour in different ways. So finding a balance between both can be tricky, as they have different implications in various situations. For instance, in a competitive work environment, a certain amount of ego can be helpful in asserting oneself and standing out among others. 

One way to balance ego and self-respect is to prioritize healthy relationships with others while maintaining a positive self-image. For example, in a conflict situation, one can express their needs and feelings while also being open to hearing and understanding the other person’s perspective. This requires letting go of the need to always be right and being willing to compromise.

When you find a balance between ego and self-respect, you become aware of numerous benefits for positive human behaviour. It can improve communication skills, increase emotional intelligence, and foster deeper connections with others. When we have a healthy sense of self-respect, we are more likely to set boundaries and communicate assertively, leading to stronger relationships and higher levels of mutual respect. 

So, by prioritizing healthy relationships with others and maintaining a positive self-image, we can achieve this balance and reap the benefits of improved communication skills, emotional intelligence, and stronger relationships.

Applying the Concept of Balancing Ego and Self-Respect in Human Behavior During Discussions, Debates, and Disagreements

Let’s take a look at how to balance ego and self-respect during discussions, debates, and disagreements. It starts by being aware of your own feelings and opinions while also respecting the views of others. To achieve this balance, it’s important to listen actively and try to understand the other person’s perspective. It’s also important to express your own views in a respectful and non-judgmental manner. For example, you can use phrases like “I understand where you’re coming from, but I see it differently” or “I respect your opinion, but I disagree.”

Adopting this approach can lead to fruitful outcomes in discussions because it allows both parties to feel heard and understood. When people feel heard and respected, they are more likely to be open-minded and consider alternative viewpoints. This approach helps to prevent arguments and conflicts from escalating into personal attacks, which can damage relationships and make it harder to resolve issues in the future.

In everyday life, balancing ego and self-respect can improve human behaviour by promoting empathy and understanding. It helps us to recognize that everyone has their own unique experiences and perspectives and that these perspectives are equally valid. By valuing the opinions of others and expressing our own views in a respectful manner, we can create more harmonious relationships with the people around us. This will broaden our own perspectives, which can lead to personal growth and development. 


In conclusion, finding a balance between ego and self-respect in human behaviour is essential for our personal growth and our relationships with others. Too much ego can lead to arrogance and a lack of empathy, while too little self-respect can lead to self-doubt and self-deprecation.

To achieve this balance, it’s important to recognize that both ego and self-respect have their place. 

It’s okay to be proud of our accomplishments and to take credit for our hard work, but we also need to remember that we are not better than others. We should treat everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of their status or achievements.

We can also cultivate self-respect by setting healthy boundaries, practicing self-care, and acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, we can develop a sense of inner strength and confidence that is not reliant on external validation.

Want to gain more insights on the topic and explore your potential to find a balance between ego and self-respect? Then join us this International Coaching Week and listen in on “Letting Your Ego Down” and many more such talks from experts to broaden your knowledge, expand your presence in the coaching field, and aid you in your leadership journey.

Register now for free. 

About the Speaker

Nalini George is the Chief People Officer of Rakuten, India. She has over 24 years of experience working across multiple cultures, including India, Japan, the USA, the UK, Canada, and Korea. Under Nalini’s leadership, the company has scaled exponentially in the past 5+ years. She has spearheaded the successful implementation of several HR strategies and best practices aligned with the organization’s global mandate within a short period. 

Through her growth-driven approach, in-depth expertise, and astute style of working, Nalini has transformed the role of HR into a strategic function at Rakuten India. Nalini also heads several other departments at Rakuten, such as IT, Facilities, Admin, Travel, and the Internal Business Incubation department. She is also a board member of Rakuten India, she works as a coach and an advisor to the senior leadership team.

Nalini is an avid reader, a multitasker, an ex-NCC cadet, and a tennis enthusiast. Her passion and enthusiasm as a leader and professional are an inspiration for her team members and everybody around her.