Employees who are paranoid about workplace rejection or sabotage can end up bringing it upon themselves, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.
A new study from the university’s Sauder School of Business reveals that paranoia about gossip or being snubbed leads people to seek out information to confirm their fears, which ultimately annoys their colleagues and increases the likelihood they will be rejected.
“It may be best to ignore impulses that tell you that you’re the victim of office politics,” said lead author Karl Aquino, Ph.D.
While it’s natural for people to wonder how others view them — especially when social acceptance in the workplace is often rewarded with power and financial compensation — Aquino says his research shows “employees should do their best to keep their interactions positive and ignore the negative. As the expression goes, kill them with kindness.”
In one of the study’s experiments, researchers discovered that people who are more likely to interpret interactions with others as negative are also more likely to try to root it out through means such as eavesdropping or spying.
Another experiment showed that individuals who reported wanting information about unfair treatment within a group were more likely to anger the other members of the group and, therefore, be the focus of rejection.
A third experiment measured employees’ comfort level with a co-worker who is worried about unfair treatment. Rather than be saddled with a worrywart, participants were 3.5 times more likely to choose individuals who demanded feedback on work quality.
Participants were 16.5 times more likely to prefer working with others who wanted to get information on work group dynamics as a whole, the researchers report.
The study was recently published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
Source: University of British Columbia