By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. Is there one character flaw that is most harmful to a successful career? I’m starting 2018 really examining my strengths and weaknesses and am a huge fan of this column. I thought your experience would give you a good sense of what people do that most hurts their chances of success?
A. A character flaw I’ve seen hurt people’s careers the most over my 35 years in executive coaching and therapy is narcissism. I am not just talking about the personality disorder (which is more uncommon). The more typical problem of being only interested in your short-term gain with no awareness of how you are affecting those around you is a career-ruining flaw.
The problem with narcissism is people who are only interested in their own needs cannot see the long game at work. They are playing chess doing what makes them feel good in their next move without seeing they will keep losing the game in the long run.
Narcissists in general do not understand they have to benefit others to receive benefits. Contrary to common wisdom, altruism and empathy are the most selfish traits you can cultivate. If you are altruistic and empathetic, you can see what helps people around you. And when people around you are good, they are in a better position to help you. End result: You selfishly get what you need!
Now, I am not talking about enabling people, pitying people or helping people who will take advantage of you. I am talking about really looking at each person in your work life and asking, How can I walk away leaving this person better than I found him or her? What does he or she need that I can give?
If you are unable to conceive of how you affect others, or if you don’t care how you affect others, then you create adversaries rather than allies. Nothing pisses people off more than receiving constant self-centered demands from an employee or coworker. If you don’t care about what matters to others, they sure as heck will never care about what matters to you.
Regardless of how powerful and independent you believe you are, real success in any endeavor requires a team. If you cannot see the humanity in people around you and desire to help them you will never have support for your goals either.
In a real way, our narcissism makes us stupid. Clearly we have the right and necessity to look out for our own needs, but if this is all we are doing, we will never get ahead at work or in life.
In the short run, can you throw a tantrum, make an ultimatum and get offended when people are reluctant to fork over what you believe you deserve. Maybe you’ll even get some goodies, but in the long run people fire you, replace you and avoid you.
The saddest consequence of narcissism is that people who struggle with this social blindness feel isolated and poorly treated, with truly no idea why their careers are in such bad shape. They blame luck, others or circumstances but never look in the mirror.
Whether asking for more opportunity, more money or more training, before you ask you should consider how you can benefit the person you are asking. There is nothing that puts people in a more giving mood than facing someone who thought of their needs before requesting something for themselves.
The last word(s)
Q. Is there a best time to negotiate for a raise?
A. Yes, wait at least one year and offer an additional service your boss needs and value and then ask! Your employer will not be interested in paying more without getting more.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
March 4, 2018 - March 17, 2018 edition