Confrontational staff causing problems? Dig into their personality

It seems like every workplace has them – employees who commit to making mountains out of molehills and constantly act in a confrontational nature. Staff members who are argumentative by default and instigate conflicts can be detrimental to any organisation.

While it can be easy to assume that such individuals simply have a short temper or are aggressive by nature, a new study from a psychometric testing company suggests otherwise – and that some people are more prone to pick fights than others as a result of “a complex combination of traits”.

PsychTests collated data from their emotional intelligence tests and found that there were clear personality discrepancies between those who believed they argue “more often than others”, compared to those who argue less.

The researchers found that self-proclaimed argumentative people displayed weaker “impulse control” (scoring 51 out of 100 on average, compared to the less argumentative group’s score of 67). This means they “tend to do or say things without contemplating the potential consequences”, and don’t demonstrate the ability to think ahead.

Other score comparisons indicated that argumentative types are “less resilient” in that they aren’t adept at dealing with stress or hardship, often venting their frustrations on others. These individuals also have poorer problem solving skills, lower self-esteem and less self-motivation, PsychTests suggested.

“People who are petty appear to pick meaningless fights without provocation or reason, but this is actually not true,” said Dr Jerabek, president of PsychTests.

“Argumentative people feel more than just anger or frustration. They experience a lot of complicated, variable emotions, and don’t know how to analyse and regulate them. They are less comfortable with emotions in general, and most importantly, they are less self-aware.”

Dr Jerabek added that as a result of this, argumentative individuals tend to make an “exaggerated response to minor issues” which is their way of reacting to things that truly bother them, although it may seem petty to others.

Employees with low emotional intelligence competencies can prove to be a drain on your entire organisation, affecting the morale and productivity of your staff. That is why tools such as personality assessments are becoming increasing important in recruitment and selection processes, in order to gain a complete picture of the candidate.

Personality assessments can also play a major role in selecting your organisation’s next generation of leaders.

The inextricable link between personality and leadership

With reams of research being conducted on the subject, it is becoming increasingly evident that there is more to leadership than simply having the right technical skills and in-depth expertise. A leader’s success is largely dependent on less tangible indicators such as their emotional intelligence and how they interact with other humans.

For instance, the ‘Emotionally Intelligent Leaders: Hogan EQ as a Predictor of Leadership Performance’ whitepaper from peterberry_author explains that emotional intelligence should be one of the main criteria to assess when looking at the pool of leadership candidates at your organisation.

“Research has shown that emotional intelligence is a credible predictor of many organisationally relevant outcomes as well as success when dealing with people, particularly as a person progresses up the corporate ladder,” the whitepaper reads.

Whether you’re searching for a new graduate to join your company’s ranks or assessing the candidates for that open executive position, the importance of taking stock of an individual’s personality cannot be overstated. With the range of profiling and assessment tools now available, it’s becoming easier to ensure you can select the right candidate every time.