The dark triad personality is characterized by socially aversive, partly overlapping, and a mix of negative personality traits. These are:
An individual with a dark personality trait, i.e., one with all three traits, is characterized by the tendency to influence others for selfish intentions.
In 2002, two psychology researchers, Kevin M. Williams and Delroy Paulhus coined the term “dark triad.”
Individuals exhibiting these red flag behaviors are likely to be have a dark triad personality. Although, in a clinical setting, these red flags may not necessarily be sufficient for the diagnosis of narcissistic or antisocial personality disorders.
While these three traits overlap, the key distinctions are:
- Sense of entitlement
- Need for power
The primary reason for their behavior is to capture the attention of others (nearly at any cost).
If a narcissist is in the workplace, he or she often charms others and communicates in ways that gain their admiration; otherwise, they are aggressive and hostile toward competitors, allowing them to enhance their reputation.
The performance of companies led by narcissistic CEOs is extremely fluctuating because narcissistic CEOs make overconfident decisions. These people tend to overestimate their own abilities and are drawn to bold actions that attract attention.
There are times, however, when these narcissists can be beneficial to a business or organization. Nevertheless, the motivation behind their actions is always self-improvement.
Similar to narcissists, people displaying Machiavellianism always consider their own interests and look out for themselves.
Such individuals are cynical, dislike humanity, sly, manipulative, deceptive and distrusting. In pursuit of monetary and power objectives, they are callous.
Machiavellians consider others as means to accomplish their goals. They distrust others, and they seek only to benefit themselves.
While they don’t have to play the lead role, they’re usually highly strategic, playing the role of a puppeteer, pulling strings behind the scenes. As a way of advancing in the workplace, sometimes they conceal information from others. If controlling a situation requires lying, cheating, and making misleading statements, they will consider these methods. Moreover, if it benefits their agenda, they’re proficient at forming alliances and cultivating a charismatic reputation.
Psychopathy is the most insidious trait out of the three. People with psychopathy are neither empathetic nor do they feel remorse for their actions. They have a manipulative and reckless interpersonal style and enjoy wreaking others.
They thrive in environments (organizations) that have a rational and emotionless behavioral style, willingness to take risks, great achievement standards, and a charming appearance. They often engage in behaviour that distracts others from their agendas and makes others feel inferior.
Through chaos in the workplace and in colleagues’ personal lives, they’re able to pursue personal agendas without being detected. They divert other people’s attention away from their hidden selfish agendas by humiliating and bullying them.
So, how can you identify such people?
The following are some signs of dark triad personality that you should watch out for in your workplace
- Contributions to the organization are exaggerated and wrongly claimed.
- Excessive and continuous self-promotion.
- Critiquing the feedback source after receiving negative feedback; showing aggression.
- Absence of consideration for consequences when planning for personal gain.
- Rather than cooperating, they compete.
- Be more considerate of others within the organization than those who promote their egos.
- With a “pick your battles” mentality, they demonstrate a selfish attribute.
- Controlling or minimizing the influence of other people.
- Not open to sharing knowledge.
- Achieving goals through manipulation.
- To distract attention from tasks, coworkers are bullied or criticized.
- Taking short-term, impulsive decisions without thinking about the consequences.
- Unconcerned with rules or ethics, they make bold, risky decisions.
- Questioning authorities, rules, etc.
Individual “bad actors” can have toxic and damaging effects on an organization, as shown by studies. Organizations and individuals can be adversely affected by dark triad behavior at large. An individual with a dark triad personality, that is their behaviour, may prove to be contagious to other members of the team. The negative strategic behaviors of individuals with dark triad personality might be copied or mimicked by colleagues.
When someone takes negative actions, this can evoke negative feelings, reduce trust, and contribute to feelings of unfairness. This can cause co-workers to become defensive, to have angry outbursts, or even to withdraw. This ultimately hinders creativity, collaboration, and performance of the organization.
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