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Are Narcissists and Psychopaths Getting Promoted Ahead of You? Science Says This is the Reason

This study makes for painful reading.

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 11 Jul 2018

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


As they breathe the rare air of gilded success, you seethe.

What have they got that you don't?

Why do these smarmy, unctuous, self-regarding, bilge-peddling nincompoops get promoted while you're overlooked?

Just look at them.

If they're not narcissists, they're psychopaths.

Or they're simply lying, scheming, manipulative worms that you'd happily tread on if they actually were worms.

To assist you with your pain, Klaus J. Templer, an Associate Professor of Organizational Psychology at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, decided to find out.

He writes about his research in the Harvard Business Review. And one sentence encapsulates the vastness of your problem:

I noticed that toxic employees whose political skills were highly rated by their supervisors were more likely to have a high performance rating.

Yes, many of these toxic humans are very clever politicians.

You might adore -- or, perhaps, find nauseating -- Templer's description of political skill:

A positive social competence that helps people network, influence others, demonstrate social astuteness, and appear sincere in their dealings with others.

It is, too often, those who appear sincere in their dealings who prosper. While those who are actually sincere languish in despair.

There are few things more galling than discovering someone whom you thought to be a friend, or at least a colleague, bad-mouth you to a boss for their own aggrandizement.

I once worked for a highly incompetent boss and wandered into his office one day. There on his coffee table was a note from a colleague telling the boss I should be fired.

I was in my 20s and wondered what I'd ever done to this person, as I'd never actually worked with them.

Ah, but they were merely trying to clear the way for themselves. In a discreet, underhanded way, you understand.

Templer does offer some good news -- well, you might see it as good -- for those who aren't quite narcissists and psychopaths.

You know, the honest, humble sorts. It seems that they, too, can get promoted, but only if they're also adept at political skills.

The end result may still be sad for some.

Instead of competence being the most important factor, it seems that building networks and alliances and actively ingratiating yourself with as many others as possible is the best way to rise in the corporate world.

But you already knew that, didn't you?

The question you might ask yourself, though, is how the narcissists and psychopaths in Congress got ahead.

I fear I must remind you that you voted for them.

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