3 Reasons the Worst People Get Ahead at Work

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: July 9, 2014

Why THAT Person Gets Ahead

Do you work with THAT guy?

You know the person I'm talking about. The guy who just likes to hear himself talk. The guy who hijacks every business meeting to promote his own agenda. The guy who is far less interested in the outcome of his team's work than furthering his personal goals. Despite possessing traits most would universally acknowledge as deplorable, it seems some people are actually rising up the ranks and being recognized even though they are less qualified than others. But how? And why?

A recent Wall Street Journal article cites research claiming workers with personality comprising the "dark triad" (which we'll get to later) actually have some worthwhile attributes hiding in a sea of awfulness. So what are these attributes that make up the "Dark Triad" and what silver linings can be garnered from these obnoxious personality traits? Take a look.

3. They Are Manipulative

You might have noticed these people manipulate others in the office to get their desired results. Or, you might not have noticed -- probably because you've been manipulated.

The people described in the article will say one thing and do another. They will stab you in the back. They will engage in gossip. They will flatter you in order to lean on you and make you pick up their slack, only to turn around and take credit for it before you get the opportunity. Whatever it takes to achieve the desired the outcome, the manipulator will make it happen. Which makes him damn near despicable among coworkers.

However, if your boss is only around sporadically, he/she is seeing this person through a different lens altogether.

To the untrained eye, the flattery can be seen as optimal networking and people skills. The gossip can be seen as having inside knowledge pertinent to the situation. That's why skilled manipulators can also be seen as above average negotiators who get the job done, as well as deft leaders.

2. They Are Narcissistic

It's easier to get ahead when you're focused on you, you, you.

While true leaders elevate the performance of those around them as well as themselves, narcissists are only interested in the latter. They have an unyielding desire to be the center of attention, their ideas are usually the only ones worth considering, and they work tirelessly to charm others and gain notoriety. However, things like that last attribute also help them.

If you only have a small amount of time to get noticed, then a narcissist is perfectly suited to grab the spotlight and embrace the starring role. While coworkers see an attention hog, bosses who aren't in the trenches on a daily basis see a go-getter with self-confidence.

3. They Have an Antisocial Personality

If you don't really care about others, you don't care about stepping on their toes to get ahead.

Being antisocial seems like it would be a strike against you. But if you stop and think about it, it makes sense that it could propel you ahead. People who are callous and cynical often have an inflated sense of self, and feel the mundane work is beneath them. Cap that off with a superficial charm and creative thinking abilities, and you've got someone who appears qualified and self-assured but is really someone who lacks empathy for others.

An impetuous nature can easily be confused with someone who pushes boundaries, making this trait an easy one to mistake for good.

Regardless of Personality Traits, Everyone Must Negotiate

Whether you're a team player or a manipulative, antisocial narcissist, when you're offered the job it's time to negotiate. And Salary.com can help you get paid fairly what you do.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.

How much are you worth?

  • Personal Salary Report
  • Search US Salaries
  • Search Canadian Salaries
  • Browse Job Openings

Related Salary.com Content