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Talent Assessment | 4 Min Read

The Dark Side of Personality at Workplace: 13 Traits to Beware of

Insensitivity: An insensitive employee does not get impacted by how their actions and words impact others.

At workplaces, this can translate into that employee making hurtful remarks about a person, their performance or other attributes which either demotivates, upsets or triggers anger in other employee(s). Certainly, this will impact the work performance of other employees and also make them question if this company is the right place from them to be. Result: high attrition, low performance, bad word of mouth about the company and poor work culture.

Self-Obsession: The only person that matters is “ME”!

Don’t even get me started on employees who think the world of themselves and look down upon everyone else. They are blind to their own mistakes and never miss a chance to bring a co-worker down. They do this by either bad mouthing about other’s work, spreading horrible rumors, sabotaging others work or making it took like they saved the day by glorifying every task that they complete. Everyone is irritated by such people. Narcissistic people have the knack to get on people’s nerves.

Oh and let’s not forget- ‘Narcissists’ or ‘self-obsessed’ people are the biggest bullies. They think that they are entitled to being a bully as they are superior to others and others deserve to be treated badly as they are inferior.

What does this attitude of theirs result in? the answer is ‘HARASSMENT’.

If you have employee(s) like this in your workplace, chances are, you are not that happy at work. The name of ‘workplace’ possibly triggers fear, anger and sadness in you. This eventually translates into higher absenteeism, half hearted work, lack of motivation to prove yourself and succeed, low confidence and increased irritability. Boom, there goes your performance. But don’t worry, you are not alone. Sadly, I don’t mean that in a good way. It’s almost certain that your coworkers are feeling the same emotions you are and are equally miserable. That is not good news for any company- having a workforce that is unhappy, stressed and unmotivated. This kind of employee behavior directly translates into business loss.

Coming to the next dark trait: Impulsiveness

Hmm, that’s a tough one. Can you think of a situation where someone acted impulsively and that landed you in deep trouble? Let me paint a picture for you –You are nearing the deadline and your impulsive teammate makes major mistakes (by being impatient and impulsive) and now you have to clear the mess up as your team mate’s judgement cannot be trusted.

The next reason why dark traits need to be identified is the ‘Thrill Seeking’ attitude.

No it’s not always fun to have a thrill seeker as a colleague.

So, this eccentric rule breaking colleague of yours decides to ditch all the instructions given by the manager and ends up costing the company a client by not following protocol. Moreover, he/she jeopardizes customer safety by not being careful with the client’s information.Thrill seeking attitude can cause a lot of damage to a company’s reputation and brand name.

The next dark trait is absolutely unacceptable at any workplace- ‘Bad Temperament’.

Having a manager, who screams at you for every mistake that you make (or don’t) can definitely be the last straw and a big reason to take the exit gate. Having a bad temper does not only cause irreparable damage to organisational work culture but can also severely jeopardize customer safety.

And how about having coworkers or worse managers who are 'Opportunistic'.

My personal least favorite trait- ‘opportunism’ is a slow poison that hits you when you are least expecting it. Your manager who made you work round the clock only to bag a promotion for himself is one nasty example of ‘opportunism’.

There are other dark traits that are not so uncommon in my experience but surely make people flinch.

The first in the list is ‘Machiavellianism’.

Named after ‘Niccolò Machiavelli’, a philosopher and diplomat in the renaissance era, this trait signifies cunningness, deception and duplicity. At workplace, this trait surfaces very frequently. Ever had a co-worker (acting as your closest friend) give you disastrous advice on purpose that almost got you fired. Yes, that is ‘Machiavellianism’ rearing its ugly head.

definition of MACHIAVELLI

Don’t get scared of the next dark trait- ‘Psychopathy’.

Yes, they do exist among us and they are closer to you than you care to admit. That manager that very systematically wrecked your life by making you work 24 hours under stress, always threatening you with dire consequences and not sparing a second to let you know how worthless you are irrespective of what you do. No it doesn’t stop there, these people will also spread bad words about you and try to sabotage your chances of getting a job elsewhere, so that you are forced to work under his/her merciless tyranny and that too for no rational reason. Completely unprovoked relentless and remorseless cruelty. That is psychopathy making its presence felt.

Definition of Psychopathy

‘Sadism’, is the next dark trait on the list.

No you can’t legally be jailed for being a sadist and yes it’s a pity such people exist. But this trait has maimed many high performers. For instance, your coworker who takes immense pleasure in your misfortunes (at work or otherwise) and never stops instigating you by casually mentioning how they have it so easy and how they are so lucky that they are not in your sticky situation. What they are doing is demotivating you and instilling feelings of hatred against the workplace within you by only showing the good side of their job to you and hiding the bad parts so that it makes you feel singled out, suffering in silence and alone in your sufferings.

Self-righteousness- Bigotry at its finest.

If you have a manager or co-worker who is very self-righteous, the workplace will be very suffocating for you. Working under a manager who cannot self analyse or accept their own mistakes, or appreciate anyone else, is not pleasant. The impact that self-righteousness has is total stripping away of a person’s self-confidence. You will lose faith in yourself and not be capable of independent decision making anymore. You will always doubt your work and have no conviction whatsoever in yourself. This will bring down your performance as well as morale.

Entitled- having a heightened sense of entitlement.

Yes, there is a superior race in existence among us. A breed of super humans if you will and they are deserving of the best of everything- best projects, best appraisals, best opportunities. They also have a major blind spot for any flaws that they may have. It’s an impossibility to have someone question their work or call them anything but brilliant. Where may I ask do they get this unlimited nonstop supply of confidence from- Hard work? advanced skill sets? high aptitude? Great Alma mater? Great past experience? Great work performance? Well the answer is none of the above. That is the most irritating part about entitled people. Their sense of achievement has absolutely no basis at all.

Lets not forget 'Egoistical'

‘I’m hurt and offended by everything.’

‘Ego’ is a double edged sword that does not work in the favor of the egoist or the people surrounding them. But these people are vengeful, insecure, shallow and hence dangerous, mind you.


<Image source: orderoftruth>

And finally the last dark trait-'Hypocrisy'.

Are they in conflict with themselves or purposefully speaking and acting in a contradictory manner to make us all rip our hair apart in irritation? No one will ever know. Ever worked under a manager that talks big talks about how he/she is so disciplined, sharp and talented while always being late to every meeting? If this sounds familiar, you are dealing with a big hypocrite. Talking about being very calm natured while getting into fights every day or claiming to be a very good ‘people’ person while being bombarded with customer and employee complaints about being unsympathetic are some more examples of how hypocrites make work life difficult.

Well now you know. If you have an unpleasant person around you, chances are that they are housing one or more of these 13 dark traits.

These dark traits are responsible for demotivating, harassing and sometimes even threatening safety of employees at workplace and in general. They are responsible for causing fall in work performance, increased absenteeism and high attrition of workforce and need to be weeded out of our workplaces and society.

dark personality assessment

So how do you ensure that you or your near dear ones do not become a victim of these dark traits. The solution is- Dark personality assessments. Dark personality assessments are the most practical and efficient way of identifying medium to high levels of dark traits in people. Once identified, they can be dealt with via specific training sessions to curb these traits and curtail the damage they cause.


Personality tests such as ‘Mettl Dark Personality Inventory’ and ‘Hogan’s dark personality assessments’ can help safeguard your workplace and surroundings by accurately identifying dangerous level of dark traits in humans before they can trigger counterproductive behavior.








Originally published July 30 2018, Updated June 16 2020

Romila Kanchan

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