Perky Personalities in the Office: More Harm then Good?
If you’re surrounded by dominant, power-hungry types in the office, be warned – they might just “eat you for breakfast”.
If you work in a shared or open-plan office, you’ve probably got your fair share of perky or peculiar office personalities. From the class clown to the over-dominant boss, there are certainly plenty to choose from. But according to psychologist Oliver James, there’s a much darker side to these office personalities that could be hiding a psychopath or even a narcissist.
According to a new report, scientists believe that modern office space “rewards” dysfunctional personalities among professional workers.
In particular, the report points to three specific personality traits that we can expect to see in the office:
- 1. Over-dominant characters that compete for power and control
- 2. Those that like to “plot and scheme”
- 3. Selfish types that talk endlessly about themselves
He also makes reference to a fourth type – a “triadic person” – who is a combination of all three characteristics.
Mr James, who has written a book titled Office Politics, suggests that those who do not fall into these categories can lose out in the world of work – claiming that other more dominant types are more likely to succeed.
He goes on to explain that people displaying these characteristics have a highly effective mix of self-centredness, deviousness, self-regard and a lack of empathy which is unpleasant for those around them, yet can help boost the career prospects of these characters and even propel them to the top of organisations.
“The likelihood of your daily working life being sacrificed by a person who is some mixture of psychopathic, Machiavellian and narcissistic is high,” he warns. “Whether you work in the corporate sector, a small business or a public sector job, the system you are in is liable to reward ruthless, selfish manipulation.”
He added: “If you do not develop the skills to deal with them, they will eat you for breakfast.”
You may be familiar with some of these characters from the film Horrible Bosses, or the 1987 film Wall Street, with Michael Douglas’ greedy character Gordon Gecko displaying many of the ‘triadic’ characteristics.
You may also notice some of these traits in your own office colleagues, as James says that this “dark triad” is “very likely to be present in that person in your office who causes you so much trouble.”
So if you thought working with Gordon Gecko would be difficult, look around – perhaps your office neighbours aren’t quite so different…