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I presented an analysis at a recent meeting, and one of my associates said that I did a good job for a person who went to a state university. He went to a big-name school and is always reminding everyone about this. I stared at him in shock and did not say anything. I completed my summary and sat down. I think I handled this right, but is it worth saying something to him?

You have an associate who went to a big-name school and made a big-time fool out of himself. He probably has some big-time insecurities about himself and his personal competence and effectiveness, and the only way to bolster his shaky foundation is to play his collegiate card.

You handled this situation extremely well. It would have been easy to snap back, challenge him, or jump into an absurd argument. You took the high road on this one, and it was the right path to take. Simply staring at him in shock is a powerful way to send a compelling message.

If his comments are still bothering you, then you should let him know. Tell him that it was fun to dabble in sophomoric rivalries when you were a sophomore, but today's projects, responsibilities, and accomplishments are far more important.

Whether he gets the message or not, the truth is that every time he harkens back to his academic pedigree, he is only making himself look foolish. As in so many aspects of life, it is far wiser to focus on where we are going rather than where we have been.

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