Opinion - 10 Tips for Campaign Operatives when Dealing with a Politician's Ego

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 23, 2020 / comments

[Cris Alarcon]

We tend to use the word Politician to describe a person who’s self-centered and who will say or do anything to get elected or to gain power.

But it’s important to remember that inflated sense of self is a legitimate advantage in the field of politics for a number of reasons.   As in times of great armies on the battlefields of Troy, a modern politician is equivalent to the greatest warrior of each opposing army meeting to the center of the battlefield to fight for their side,  A hand-to-hand battle to determine the future of all.  As such, battle-worthy, battle-proven, and an Ego big enough to intimidate opposition into capitulation . As true in the Trojan wars as it is in advanced political warfare today. Goal one, scare opposition away before they require additional resources to combat.

This superego used to intimidate opposition away from starting initially, and to take the wind-out-of -the-sails of any significant current opposition, is a good political strategy.

Great politicians have super egos and are great on the trail, BUT working with them requires awareness of your position and and a natural Pols' personality traits. 

These might include:

having an inflated sense of self;

needing constant praise;

taking advantage of others;

not recognizing or caring about the needs of others.

To make things more complicated, politicians' are often very sensitive to criticism, despite their high self-esteem.

Here’s a look at some practical ways to deal with politicians — plus some tips for recognizing when it’s time to move on.


1. See them for who they really are

When they want to, those with Political personalities are pretty good at turning on the charm. You might find yourself drawn to their grand ideas and promises. This can also make them particularly popular in social settings.

But as an Operative do not get drawn in.  Watch how they treat people when they’re not “on stage.” If you catch them lying, manipulating, or blatantly disrespecting others, there’s no reason to believe they won’t do the same to you.  Despite what someone with a Political personality may say, your wants and needs are likely unimportant to them. And if you try to bring up this issue, you may be met with resistance. The first step in dealing with someone who has a Political personality is simply accepting that this is who they are — there’s not much you can do to change that.


2. Break the spell and stop focusing on THEM

When there’s a Political personality in your orbit, attention seems to gravitate their way. That’s by design — whether it’s negative or positive attention, those with Political personalities work hard to keep themselves in the spotlight.  You might soon find yourself buying into this tactic, pushing aside your own needs to keep them satisfied.

If you’re waiting for a break in their attention-seeking behavior, it may never come. No matter how much you adjust your life to suit their needs, it’s never going to be enough.

If you are involved as an Operative in the political trenches then you must deal with a Political personality, or several of them.  Don’t allow them to infiltrate your sense of self or define your world. You matter, too. Regularly remind yourself of your strengths, desires, and goals.  Take charge and carve out some “me time.” Take care of yourself first and remember that it’s not your job to fix them.

3. Speak up for yourself

There are times when ignoring something or simply walking away is an appropriate response — pick your battles, right?

But a lot depends on the operational relationship. For example, dealing with a political boss that is a candidate, an Elected Office Holder, or a Political Power Broker may call for different strategies than dealing with an associate, cohort, or child.

Some people with Political personalities enjoy making others squirm. If that’s the case, try not to get visibly flustered or show annoyance, as that will only urge them to continue.

If it’s someone you’d like to keep close in your sphere of influence, then you owe it to yourself to speak up. Try to do this in a calm, gentle manner.

You must tell them how their words and conduct impact your life. Be specific and consistent about what’s not acceptable and how you expect to be treated. But prepare yourself for the fact that they may simply not understand — or care.

4. Set clear boundaries

A person with a Political personality is often quite self-absorbed.

They might think they’re entitled to go where they want, snoop through your personal things, or tell you how you should feel. Maybe they give you unsolicited advice and take credit for things you’ve done. Or pressure you to talk about private things in a public setting.

They may also have little sense of personal space, so they tend to cross a lot of boundaries. More often than not, they don’t even see them. That’s why you have to be abundantly clear about boundaries that are important to you.

Why would the consequences matter to them? Because someone with a Political personality typically starts to pay attention when things start affecting them personally.

Just make sure it’s not an idle threat. Talk about consequences only if you’re ready to carry them out as stated. Otherwise, they won’t believe you the next time.

Say the Pol touches inappropriately. Start by firmly saying No Touching below the Shoulders.  Then state that you will have no choice but to make a report just in case the subject comes up in the future - as protection for BOTH.

The key is to follow through and write the complaint the next time it happens AND file it with the Pol themself and then escalate as needed.

5. Expect them to push back

If you stand up to someone with a Political personality, you can expect them to respond.

Once you speak up and set boundaries, they may come back with some demands of their own. They may also try to manipulate you into feeling guilty or believing that you’re the one being unreasonable and controlling. They might make a play for sympathy.

Be prepared to stand your ground. If you take a step backward, they won’t take you seriously next time.


6. Remember that you’re not at fault

A person with Political personality disorder isn’t likely to admit a mistake or take responsibility. Instead, they tend to project their own negative behaviors onto you or someone else.  You might be tempted to keep the peace by accepting blame, but you don’t have to belittle yourself to salvage their ego. You know the truth. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.


7. Find a support system

If you can’t avoid the person, try to build up your healthy relationships and support network of people outside of politics. Spending too much time in a subordinate relationship with someone who has a Political personality can leave you emotionally drained.

Rekindle old friendships and try to nurture new relationships outside of politics. Get together with family more often. If your social circle is smaller than you’d prefer, try taking a class to explore a new hobby. Get active in your community or volunteer for a local civic charity [not politically oriented]. Do something that allows you to meet more people you feel comfortable with even if it is other campaign vets, just not involved in the same campaigns you are working.  Operatives know best the feeling when your candidate goes off and makes a bad move against good advice, and then blames the advisor...


Spending a lot of time with someone who has a Political personality can make it hard to remember what a healthy relationship even feels like.

Here’s a few signs to look for:

Both people listen and make an effort to understand each other;

Both people acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility for them;

Both people feel like they can relax and be their true selves in front of the other.


8. Insist on immediate action, not promises

People with Political personalities are good at making promises. They promise to do what you want and not to do that thing you hate. They promise to generally do better.

And they might even be sincere about these promises. But make no mistake about it: The promise is a means to an end for someone with a Political personality.  Once they get what they want, the motivation is gone. You can’t count on their actions matching their words.

Ask for what you want and stand your ground. Insist that you’ll only fulfill their requests after they’ve fulfilled yours.  Don’t give in on this point. Consistency will help drive it home.

9. Understand that a Political person may not ever see the problem

People with Super-Political-Egos often don’t see a problem — at least not with themselves. As a result, it’s unlikely they’ll ever see the problem.  You can suggest that they reach out for professional help, but you can’t make them do it. It’s absolutely their responsibility, not yours. And remember, while Getting Elected is the goal, it doesn’t excuse bad or abusive behavior.


10. Recognize when you need help

Regularly dealing with someone who has a Political personality can take a toll on your own mental and physical health.  Reach out to family and friends and call your support system into service. There’s no need to go it alone.

If you have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or unexplained physical ailments, see your primary care doctor first. Once you have a checkup, you can ask for referrals to other services, such as therapists and support groups.

-- When to move on

Some people with a Super-Ego Political personality can also be verbally or emotionally abusive.

Here are some signs of an abusive relationship:

name-calling, insults;

patronizing, public humiliation;

yelling, threatening;

jealousy, accusations.

Other warning signs to watch for in the other person include:

blaming you for everything that goes wrong;

monitoring your movements or attempting to isolate you;

telling you how you really feel or should feel;

routinely projecting their shortcomings onto you;

denying things that are obvious to you or attempting to gaslight you;

trivializing your opinions and needs.

But at what point is it time to throw in the towel? 

Every relationship has its ups and downs, right?

While this is true, it’s generally best to leave the political relationship if:

you’re being verbally or emotionally abused;

you feel manipulated and controlled;

you’ve been physically abused or feel threatened;

you feel isolated;

a Political personality shows signs of mental illness or substance abuse, but won’t get help;

your mental or physical health has been affected.


Burned out in general, go do something entirely different like go whale watching or take the Culinary class you have been thinking about, just throw-in the towel on that campaign.  There are always future campaigns that will be desperate for election help.


If you fear the Politico you can reach out to the FPPC if it is a Cal campaign.

A campaign Operative always works like a dog, but they should never stand for being treated like a dog.

Cris Alarcon, Politico, Graduate Leadership Institution Campaign School1985, Political Operative, Campaign Consultant.