‘Toxic peo­ple’ still be­come pro­fes­sion­ally suc­cess­ful?

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Guide - - WORKSMART - Asian-News In­ter­na­tional

Toxic per­son­al­ity is a term used to col­lec­tively de­scribe a per­son who be­haves greed­ily, im­mod­estly and un­fairly and takes the truth lightly

THE RE­SEARCH TEAM DE­TER­MINED THAT TOXIC PER­SON­AL­I­TIES WHO ARE SO­CIALLY ADEPT BY COL­LEAGUES WERE CON­SID­ERED CA­PA­BLE BY SU­PE­RI­ORS AND OC­CUPY A HIGHER PO­SI­TION

How can that “toxic per­son” get away with things and still be­come suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sion­ally? A re­cent study has iden­ti­fied so­cial skills as the key to the trick.

The study was led by Dr Mareike Kholin, Bas­tian Kuck­el­haus and Prof. Dr. Ger­hard Blickle from the Depart­ment of Psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Bonn and team, with the re­sults pre­sented online in ad­vance in the jour­nal Per­son­al­ity and In­di­vid­ual Dif­fer­ences.

Toxic per­son­al­ity is a term used to col­lec­tively de­scribe a per­son who be­haves greed­ily, im­mod­estly and un­fairly and takes the truth very lightly.

Hav­ing a so­cial skill, in gen­eral, is a good thing at the work­place, as it helps to open locked doors and to help cope with daily stress. How­ever, mas­ter­ing the very same so­cial skill can also be used to de­ceive oth­ers, or break some­one’s trust.

Dr. Mareike Kholin and the re­search team de­ter­mined that toxic per­son­al­i­ties who are con­sid­ered so­cially adept by their col­leagues were con­sid­ered more ca­pa­ble by their su­pe­ri­ors and oc­cupy a higher hi­er­ar­chi­cal po­si­tion.

“We have to get used to the idea that so­cial skills can be a dou­ble-edged sword,” says Kholin. In per­son­al­ity tests, “toxic” per­sons have low scores in the cat­e­gories of hon­esty and mod­esty.

“Such per­son­al­i­ties tend to fo­cus on them­selves all the time,” says Blickle. “Good so­cial skills en­able them to de­ceive oth­ers.”

On the other hand, those who are dis­tinctly hon­est and mod­est are a real joy for their team: Such in­di­vid­u­als be­have fairly and al­low col­leagues to share in their suc­cesses.

Psy­chol­o­gists from the Univer­sity of Bonn in­ves­ti­gated the phe­nom­e­non by in­ter­view­ing var­i­ous work teams, ac­cessed their be­havioural pat­terns and col­lected data from a to­tal of 203 of em­ploy­ees, col­leagues and su­pe­ri­ors. The re­sults showed that work­ers with low val­ues for hon­esty and mod­esty can nonethe­less suc­ceed in their ca­reers if they bal­ance the toxic parts of their per­son­al­ity with so­cial skills. Bas­tian Kuck­el­haus: “Trick­ery, dis­guise and de­cep­tion are the dark sides of so­cial skills.”

“In or­der to slow down the as­cent of toxic per­son­al­i­ties, more at­ten­tion should be paid to ac­tual per­for­mance and less to the good im­pres­sion when se­lect­ing staff and mak­ing as­sess­ments,” ad­vises Prof. Blickle.

This is par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult in ac­tiv­i­ties where it is im­por­tant to im­press and arouse in­ter­est, such as in sales or lead­er­ship po­si­tions. “Here, it makes sense for in­stance to also look at the sick­ness and no­tice rate of em­ploy­ees or cus­tomer loy­alty,” Blickle adds.

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