There’s no denying that office politics can get nasty. However, obsessing about it may just make things worse for you, researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Saunder School of Business have found.

Phys.org reports that the study’s results suggest that being paranoid about workplace gossip, rejection, or sabotage makes people try to ferret out information to confirm their fears, which ends up annoying coworkers and upping the chances of rejection or subversion.

The study, which was published recently in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, involved three experiments. In the first, researchers found that people who were more likely to see others’ actions and words as negative were also more likely to engage in eavesdropping or spying.

The findings from the second showed that those who sought information about being treated unfairly in the workplace were often those who had irritated coworkers, making them more likely to be rejected.

Finally, the third experiment looked at how people felt about a coworker who was paranoid about unfair treatment. Researchers found that people were 3.5 times more likely to prefer people who asked for feedback on the quality of their work than those who were worrywarts. When comparing worriers over those who actively sought ways to understand work group dynamics, people were 16.5 times more likely to pick the latter as people they would want to work with.

“It may be best to ignore impulses that tell you that you’re the victim of office politics,” lead author Karl Aquino, a professor at the UBC Saunder School of Business, is quoted as saying. He adds that some concern over what your coworkers think of you is natural, particularly if you work for a company or industry where social acceptance helps you move your career forward. “However, our research shows employees should do their best to keep their interactions positive and ignore the negative. As the expression goes, kill them with kindness.”


(Photo by Victor1558 via Flickr Creative Commons)

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