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'Narcissists, psychopaths dominate office politics'

Posted on Jan 28, 09:32PM | IANS

Narcissists and psychopaths are among the three types of personalities that dominate office politics, says psychologist and broadcaster Oliver James, in his new book "Office Politics."

James reserves his bile for the TV industry, including BBC and independent broadcasters where he has worked. "Television is jam-packed with untalented people who have managed to associate themselves with successful programmes and disassociate themselves from failures," he says.

Bosses, says James, compete for domination and attention and have no worries about trampling over others. The second like nothing more than to plot and scheme while the third drone on endlessly about themselves.

But James believes there is a fourth dysfunctional type or "triadic person" who combines these three characteristics. Such staff, he warns, have a dangerous, yet effective mix of self-centredness, deviousness, self-regard and a lack of empathy which can propel them to the top of the organisations, the Daily Mail reports.

Research has suggested that there has been an increase in the "triadic" conditions over the past 30 years because there are no objective criteria for success or failure in workplaces.

Among the examples he gives of these triadics are Gordon Gecko, the fictional trader played by Michael Douglas in the film Wall Street, whose mantra is 'greed is good'. TV series mafia boss Tony Soprano and Russian dictator Stalin are also identified in this group.

"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," says the author.

"The likelihood of your daily working life being sacrificed by a person who is some mixture of psychopathic, Machiavellian and narcissistic is high. If you do not develop the skills to deal with them, they will eat you for breakfast," adds James.

James researched various offices to study various traits. He says that partners in one elite law firm were in many cases humourless, charmless and had social skills akin to someone with Asperger's syndrome, so unaware were they of the thoughts and feelings of others.

He also discloses how an investment banker got his job by fooling the interview panel at a leading American institution into believing that he was an expert in a product he knew nothing about.

He then conned his socially insecure boss into believing that he was from an "old money" background by lying about "decadent weekends at grand and historic country houses".

"Office Politics" has been published by the Random House.