Destructive Personality Styles

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Destructive Personality Styles

Destructive Personality Styles


Authoritarian personalities are seen in people who consider themselves right in nearly all circumstances. They place "being right" at a higher priority than getting along with other people, and certainly higher than compromise and collaboration.

The authoritarian personality may be seen in any level of the business. We may encounter:

  1. Ruling peers.
  2. Micromanaging bosses.
  3. Subordinate staff.

These people are typically controllers who want everything their own way. For example, we may see a manager delegate a job, and then proceed to dictate how that job needs to be done without regard to the personality or needs of the individual assigned with the task.

Often authoritarian people will:

  1. Try to control WHAT gets done.
  2. Try to control HOW things get done.
  3. Ignore company or departmental procedures.
  4. Use given authority or use manipulation to make certain the work is done his or her way.
  5. Attempt to dictate expectations to their own manager.
  6. Take on an undelegated supervisory role with co-workers.


Another personality that may be encountered in the workplace is the manipulator. Manipulators use their behavior to get their way. The first two behavioral types listed below are rather obvious manipulative behaviors, while the following three are more subtle.

  1. "Guilt mongers," play on people's emotions.
  2. "Gossipers," spread criticism and distrust among co-workers.
  3. "Underminers," do things that harm the efforts of other employees.
  4. "Passive-aggressives" will:
    1. Outwardly agree to do something.
    2. Not follow through with action.
    3. Justify the lack of action, often using guilt and acting like a victim.
  5. "Lovable People" use positive words and amiable traits to persuade people to:
    1. Do their work for them.
    2. Cover for them.
    3. Not apply consequences for his or her lack of achievement.


Some people are unhappy and seem content to be unhappy. Negative attitudes and behaviors, like all attitudes and behaviors, are a choice. The pessimist:

  1. Notices everything that is wrong.
  2. Complains about the people and things they encounter.
  3. Tends to be grumpy and critical of others.
  4. May criticize others behind their back, or to their face.
  5. Automatically discounts new ideas.
  6. Can be a powerful barrier to creativity and productivity.


Drama queens and kings always add excitement to the workplace. The goal of the dramatic person is to get attention or to build up himself or herself. Unfortunately the effects of the drama can be costly.

Hero Syndrome

The hero syndrome is one presentation of the dramatic personality. The behaviors of the hero follow a distinct pattern:

  1. Through his or her own behavior, creates a problem.
  2. The problem eventually becomes an emergency and requires a "hero" to fix the emergency.
  3. The very person who created the problem then becomes the hero and fixes the problem.
  4. The behavior is reinforced by the gratitude of others when the problem has been resolved.

For example, a procrastinator postpones a project or delays the completion of a project until it becomes an emergency, causing worry or stress for others. The procrastinator then does an excellent job of completing the project, often sacrificing his or her own personal need to do so. Unfortunately, this causes other people stress and hardship when working around the procrastination, and may have detrimental effects on other people's work or on quality.

The Victim

Dramatics may play the victim role. When their own performance results in a consequence that they do not like, their reaction becomes extreme. They use drama to distract the focus away from the initial behavior, thus minimizing the impact of the real problem. They may:

  1. Act shocked about the consequence.
  2. Act persecuted, as though the consequence is unjustified.
  3. Blame others.
  4. Have an emotional outburst, such as crying or yelling.
  5. Threaten extreme action, such as quitting or filing a lawsuit.


Finally, there is the plain-old lazy person. The lethargic person is often able, but not willing, to put effort toward achieving a goal. A lethargic worker:

  1. Lacks motivation.
  2. Does not perform his or her share of the work.
  3. Will not take ownership of his or her responsibilities.
  4. Cannot seem to do what he or she is supposed to do to get the job done.
  5. Tends to be short-sighted.
  6. Cares more about his or her own mood at the moment.
  7. Does not consider the impact his or her behavior has on other people or on the future.

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