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警戒!你的老板可能是自恋狂

The warning signs you’re working for a narcissist
警戒!你的老板可能是自恋狂

Almost every office has one. The person whose self-belief exceeds their abilities, who belittles their colleagues, and considers themselves so special and unique they are infuriated when others fail to recognise their talents.

几乎每个办公室都有这样一个人:其自信超越其能力,他们贬低同事,认为自己鹤立鸡群,当别人不认可自己的才能时,会感到愤怒。

We’re talking about the office narcissist.

我们所说的是办公室自恋狂(office narcissist)。

The term stems from Greek mythology when a hunter named Narcissus fell in love with himself when he saw his own image reflected in a pool of water. Sadly, self-obsessed narcissists are no myth in the modern workplace. Identifying their behaviour early can save you a lot of stress.

这个术语源于希腊神话,一个名叫纳西瑟斯(Narcissus)的猎人看到自己在水池中的倒影,便爱上了自己。可悲的是,自我痴迷的自恋狂在当今工作场所并不是神话。尽早识别他们的行为可为你减轻很大压力。

Earlier in her career Karlyn Borysenko, author of Zen Your Work, found herself working for a narcissist.

《工作禅学》(Zen Your Work)的作者波利森科(Karlyn Borysenko)在职业生涯早期时候发现自己的上司是一位自恋狂。

“I absolutely loved her, I thought she was charismatic, I thought she was smart, I was really excited to go and work for her,” says Borysenko. “It took about three months on the job of seeing her day-to-day to realise that something was very wrong with the situation. And to come to grips with the fact that I was working for a narcissist.”

波利森科说,“那时我非常喜欢她,觉得她魅力十足,又聪慧过人。能为她工作我觉得特别兴奋。在三个月的时间里,我每天看着她工作,直到有一天发现不大对劲。我突然意识到,我的上司是个自恋狂。”

Borysenko says she found that it became a huge part of her job to flatter her boss, to make her feel good and to promote her in the organisation. “If you didn’t do those things there was a massive retribution.”

波利森科说,她发现自己工作很大一部分是在取悦这位上司,让她心情愉快,让她工作可以升职。“如果我不这样干的话,就会招来严重惩罚。”

When it happens consistently over time, it can make you feel like you’re going crazy, she says. “What does this person see that I don’t see? What do they understand that I don’t understand? And you have to come to grips with the fact that it’s more about how they are perceiving the world than it is about what you’re doing.”

她说,这种情形持续下去,会把你逼疯,这时你会想,“这个人看到了什么我没有看到?他们理解到什么我理解不到?最后你不得不承认这个事实,他们如何看世界比你如何做更重要。”

Borysenko wasn’t the only person in the office that felt the wrath of their boss’s narcissism. But instead of uniting in recognition of a shared situation, her workmates began to turn against each other because of the stress of feeling powerless to change the dynamic. “It became a competition to see who was going to be in her good graces,” she says.

波利森科并不是办公室里唯一一个对老板的自恋感到愤怒的人。但她的同事们没有团结起来面对这一形势共同进退,反而因为大家无力改变这种情况而产生压力,结果是互相针对彼此反面。她说,“同事们开始争先恐后拍老板马屁,看谁能得到她的欢心。”

“It all comes down to their ability to literally invent their own reality around them, regardless of objective fact or evidence or data. Everything has to go in support of maintaining their self-image.”

“归根到底,自恋狂只是在编造身边的事实,自我感良好,毫不理会客观情况、证据和数据。所有这一切都是为了维持自我形象。”

The bad news is that although narcissists are clearly unpleasant to work with, countless studies have shown they can do very well in their careers – and can even sometimes be good for business. The lack of empathy, the tunnel vision to achieve, the lies and manipulation are all prevalent qualities of people drawn to positions of power.

倒霉的是,虽然与自恋狂一起工作明显让人感到不快,但无数研究表明,自恋狂在自己的事业上表现出色,有时甚至给公司带来好处。缺乏同理心、只专注于狭隘的事业、满嘴谎言和操控他人等是可以爬升到权力高位的成功人士的普遍特征。

Dr Tim Judge is an organisational and leadership psychologist at Ohio State University. His research analyses the effects narcissists have on business.

贾奇(Tim Judge)博士是俄亥俄州立大学的组织和领导领域的心理学家。他的研究是分析自恋狂对公司的影响。

Judge says that narcissists often have certain characteristics that make them more suited to leadership. “We know narcissists tend to be more charismatic, he says, “they are more likely to take charge of situations which sometimes is needed… and they are more willing and able to take risks when that’s required and there are situations for organisations in crisis where those qualities are desired.”

贾奇说,自恋狂往往具有某些特质,使他们更适合领导他人。他说,“我们知道自恋狂往往更有魅力,他们在需要的时候更容易掌控场面......他们更愿意且能够在需要时承担风险。机构在面临危机时非常需要这些品质。”

And so, to the age-old question of nature versus nurture – is narcissism something you are born with or can it develop over time?

因此,回到古老的先天还是后天之争——即自恋是与生俱来,还是后天习得?

Judge says it’s both. While there are some studies which point to innate characteristics of narcissism, there are others that show parental practices, income level and things that happen in the workplace also contribute to narcissism.

贾奇说两者都有。有些研究指出自恋是天生的,有些则表示,父母的行为、家庭收入水平,以及工作中发生的事都可能促成自恋。

“Individuals born into high socio-economic status or high income households tend to have higher scores,” he says, “also a parental style that tends to encourage a child’s self-esteem to an excessive degree” can lead to narcissism.

他说,“那些出生在社会经济地位高和高收入家庭中的人往往更容易自恋。而且,在这些家庭里,父母会倾向于过度鼓励孩子自信”,因而导致自恋。

Is this all sounding very familiar? Well, not surprisingly, many prominent people potentially fall under this personality type.

这些听上去是不是耳熟能详?嗯,一点也不奇怪,许多知名人士都有可能有这种人格特征。

“I think it’s often a common characteristic of political leaders when they are in crises and change-oriented leadership,” says Judge, “it’s not hard to think of a lot of the charismatic US presidents as narcissistic,” he says, mentioning John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan as potential examples.

贾奇说,“这是那些面临危机和倾向改革的政治领导人的共同特点。不难想象,很多有魅力的美国总统都很自恋。”他举例说,美国总统肯尼迪(John F Kennedy)和里根(Ronald Reagan)都是这样的人。

So, what about the perception that narcissists tend to do quite well in their careers, despite not necessarily performing particularly well? Dr Judge says it comes down to the fact that they are ‘squarely agentic focused’ which means they are wholly focused on their own needs rather than the needs of others. “In terms of extra career success,” he says, “we know this agentic focus tends to be helpful, so earnings, occupational prestige and – it’s a bit strong to say this but it’s true – that’s mostly what narcissists care about.”

那么,尽管自恋狂的表现差强人意,但为什么他们往往能在自己的事业中风生水起?贾奇博士说,原因要归结为他们“绝对自主”的行为,即完全专注于自己所需,而非他人的需求。他说,“要想在事业上取得额外的成功,这种自主性往往有帮助。因此,自恋狂主要关注收入高低和职业声望。这种说法可能有点强烈,但事实就是如此。”

So, could a little bit of narcissism be a helpful boost for your career? If you need to convince investors or customers to give you money, self-belief is crucial. But at what point does that confidence tip into delusion?

那么,一点点自恋是否有助于事业提升呢?如果要说服投资人或客户打开钱包,那么自信心至关重要。但这种自信达到什么程度就会变成错觉呢?

It’s a risky business, says Don Moore, a professor in leadership at the Haas Business School in California.

加州哈斯商学院(Haas Business School)领导学教授摩尔(Don Moore)表示,这事有风险。

“There are lots of circumstances in life in which it pays to be well-calibrated and faking it – or fooling yourself about how good you are – can lead to a number of predictable and unfortunate errors,” he says.

他说:“在人生中很多情况下,因自我期许很高以及对自身能力的不实际高估,会为此付出代价,自以为是可能导致许多可预见的错误和不幸失误。”

Interestingly, in business, there are often circumstances when over-confident people appear to rise to the top. “When we take their claims of confidence at face value, we are the poorer for it,” warns Moore, “we will wind up adulating, promoting and voting for over-confident jerks who cannot actually deliver on what they say they can do.”

有趣的是,在公司里,似乎经常是那些自负的人能爬得更高。摩尔警告大家,“如果我们相信了这些人表面的自信,那我们就变得比他们还傻。我们会最终变得阿谀奉承、大肆推广并且支持那些自负的傻瓜,他们根本就是眼高手低。”

“To get promoted to a job of leadership you have to be good and you have to be lucky,” Moore says, “there will always be the temptation to misattribute one’s good fortune to one’s ability and when you do that, you’re going to think that you’re better than you actually are.”

摩尔说:“要想晋升到领导层,你必须能力称职,还要运气好。人们很容易把机遇带来的好运归功于能力,当你做成一件事,你会以为自己比实际的你还要优秀。”

But despite this, there is still some merit to the motto “fake it till you make it.”

尽管如此,在职场上“弄假成真”还是有一些好处。

“Don’t fall victim to the imposter syndrome,” says Moore, referring to a mindset in which you believe you are inadequate and not up to a particular job or task. “Imposter syndrome is a real issue,” he says, “and underconfidence happens in predictable circumstances… on hard tasks where we’re more aware of our own shortcomings, so taking a little bit of courage and overcoming that imposter syndrome, believing in yourself enough to gain mastery of the task is pretty good advice.”

摩尔说,不要成为冒名顶替综合症(imposter syndrome)的受害者。具有这种心理症状的人有这样的心态:认为自己能力不够,不足以胜任某种工作或完成某项任务。 他说,“冒名顶替综合症是真正的问题所在。对可预见的状况缺乏自信,在履行艰巨任务时,着眼于自己的缺点,因此导致勇气不足,无法克服冒名顶替综合征。我建议,要充分相信自己有能力完成任务。”

Indeed, we could actually learn a valuable lesson in self-belief from narcissists.

的确,我们可以从自恋狂那里学到关于自信的宝贵教训。

Karlyn Borysenko points to the ability of narcissists to create the reality they want as sometimes being the catalyst to getting them to where they want to go.

波利森科指出,自恋狂有能力创造他们想要的现实,有时正是这种自信的能力督促他们达成目的。

“That’s is because they are acting as though that reality is true and oftentimes that’s what propels them to their level of success,” she says.

她说,“原因是,他们的行为似乎已经说明,这就是现实,这种自信往往就是推动他们取得成功的原因。”

“We see this with Donald Trump in the United States. Absolutely he believed he could be president and so he became president. And that would not have happened if he didn’t believe it.”

“我们可以从美国总统特朗普(Donald Trump)那里理解这一点。他绝对相信自己有能力当选总统,于是就成了事实。 如果他连自信都没有,那根本就不会发生。”
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