Ever wonder why the not-so-smart gal makes the sale? Or why the inexperienced guy has the killer pitch? The dark triad of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy are qualities known to usually have negative outcomes in life. But a recently published research paper challenges the notion.
The researchers set out to explore whether these generally agreed-upon dark personality traits could have a bright side at work. The answer is yes — and definitely in the short term.
A more manipulative person can leverage their skill to get “intelligence” — yet they might use it as gossip and spread ill-will. A narcissist can be great at making the sale, but terrible at maintaining the relationship. The anti-social personality likes to take risks. This can be terrific in a start-up environment. But while great risk can bring-on great success, it can also invite great failure.
Have you ever interacted with one of the described personality types? Did they see success in the workplace? Did you learn anything from them? Do you embody one of the characteristics? Is it working for you?
How to tell if you — or your colleagues — are a workplace narcissist
"These are people who are nice to you but rude to the waiter. So if you think about it, at work these are people who are very deferential and respectful towards their bosses and other higher ups, but are very domineering and sometimes outright mean towards people who are below them — but often also peers. So they're deferential up, but awful across. If you can see the differences in their behaviors, you're probably dealing with someone who has this kind of strategy."
Using Gossip Strategically
"If you just sort of pay attention to the way people use gossip and if you notice that they consistently seem to be using it to drive wedges between people, they're probably a Machiavellian. If it's a particular person they might just have a grudge, but if they do it regularly this is probably something more deep-seated and you may be working with a narcissist or a Machiavellian."
"Sometimes these can be somewhat self-deceptive, so narcissists may just think that they're extremely confident."
Awful Reputation? Who Cares!?
"Machiavellians are usually pretty aware of their own personality and, in fact, they're happy about it. They like that other people see them as awful and they really enjoy that."
"The thing to notice is, if they get caught doing something bad, how do they respond. A psychopath, they don't feel guilt and shame or even anxiety that most people do. So if they get caught they'll admit to it, but they won't learn anything from it."
Seth M. Spain, lead author of the 2014 research review, “The Dark Side of Personality at Work”, and an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York.