Compliments of D Labora via Flickr

Compliments of D Labora via Flickr

Sycophants contribute to shortsighted, individually contrived gains. It’s as if some bosses need constant reinforcement to sustain egos that would otherwise go unnoticed. You know the people I’m talking about. The ones who agree with everything their managers say, who appear to have a homing device which ferrets boss whereabouts. Obsequious to a fault, grovelers annoyingly mirror speech habits/mannerisms of the persons they’re trying to impress.

As The Guardian infers, people who spit polish supervisor spittoons do little to help their firms; “Understand the correlation between persistent unwarranted flattery and business failure: many bosses are kept ignorant of crucial issues because their staff fear telling the truth.”

Office politics range from overt Machiavellian (which may eventually impale company politicians on their own sword) to the more subtle, devious types that others may not recognize. Those who suffer from HPD (Histrionic Personality Disorder) may appear superficially charming and agreeable – until you cross them, at which point they can become “dramatic, emotional, [and] erratic.”

These individuals presume an inordinate degree of closeness unwarranted by time, relationship, or circumstance: e.g., “You’re my best friend” after only a few weeks of acquaintance. Desiring to be center stage, they draw attention with ostentatious clothing and unwarranted theatrics, alternatively playing either victim or eager beaver – whichever part they think will score them the most points (or relieve them of reprimand). Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders describes them as highly emotional, charming, energetic, manipulative, seductive, impulsive, erratic, and demanding, individuals who have superficial, “insincere, stormy relationships.

How to recognize HPD on display?

Initially they appear overly nice – bearing gifts, helping you with problems, making hollow promises. But over a period of time they supplant these kind acts with increasingly over the top appeals. Manipulative and exploitative, incessantly demanding and inconsiderate, they choose their targets carefully – selecting ones they think will offer the least push back. They are “an astute judge of the likes and dislikes of others.” They discern quickly whom to bootlick or betray, eliciting crocodile tear sympathy along the way. In their wake lie long strings of emotional carnage, bridges burned which necessitate new ventures that result in the same dysfunctional pattern. Physical explanation suggests a neurotransmitter malfunction that’s responsible for communicating nerve impulses.

Be wary of those who protesteth too much – who approach you with an effusion of flattery and congenial smiles. Make people jump through some hoops before proclaiming them your best friend. HPD demands may be deviously couched as “gifts;” e.g., offering to “ride together” when they are in fact the ones desiring a shotgun position. It’s important that you take your time in the friendship process (or delicately uncouple), because they are very convincing in suggesting wrong doing to upper management. Even after you’ve severed ties they may still make unlimited demands at the drop of a hat. They can demonstrate a negative, bombastic reaction when threatened, questioned, or challenged.

Remain firm and avoid becoming too close too soon. Like crazy glue, they will grab hold until you wrest control and relinquish the friendship.

“Although [they] impresses people positively upon a first meeting, [they] never develop any deep, committed relationships, and [their] shifting moods eventually start wearing on those around [them].”  Their outbursts occur at the very time when people express the cause of their dissatisfaction – or after offering what could be helpful advice. Anything that smacks of rejection might illicit a histrionic outburst, verbal abuse, and a disproportionate response. They are unconditionally concerned with their own needs – and both unwilling and unable to comprehend those of others.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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