The Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) at Work

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With so many different people at the office, it’s almost certain there will be arrogant ones among them. Needless to say, they influence the work environment badly, create tension, conflicts and misunderstandings which eventually lead to poorer performance.

Despite its destroying effect on productivity, very little is done to research the real impact of arrogance on employees. Still, it’s extremely important, especially in areas where customer satisfaction and teamwork might suffer.

WARS as a Management Tool for Fighting Arrogance at Work

The Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) is a tool for measuring employee / manager arrogance introduced by Stanley Silverman and his colleagues from The University of Akron and Michigan State University. It took them 4 years to conduct their research (in particular, interviewing employees on a subject of their colleagues’ arrogant behaviors).

The most important conclusion resulting from research with WARS was that arrogant employees were usually less intelligent and skilled, although pretended to be superior to others. Their arrogance was thus completely unsubstantiated.

Arrogance turned out to prevail among employees with low self-esteem. This is typical behavior of trying to compensate the lack of confidence.

Silverman and his colleagues discovered less arrogant employees produced better results and vice versa. It became clear that excess arrogance is a significant obstacle for productive work.

Arrogant workers not only performed worse, but made it hard for the rest of the team to maintain friendly, cooperative relationships, at the same time ruining trust and respect.

Typical Behavior

  • ridiculing and trying to diminish coworkers’ ideas and achievements in front of everyone;
  • imposing excess advice even in matters they are not competent about;
  • weird non-verbal communication (e.g., staring at someone for a long time to make them feel awkward);
  • behaving nicely with managers but being nasty to subordinates;
  • making speeches at meetings and discussions a “one-man show”.

Silverman’s study also shows that, if tolerated, arrogance can be a highly negative force, draining energy and motivation out of the others and making daily communication unbearable.

Obviously, encouraging teamwork and humility as well as cultivating a learning-focused culture can lower the degree of arrogance within an organization and contribute to mutually beneficial social interactions between employees and managers.

“Our study results show that there may be advantages for organizations that encourage positive behaviors such as humility,” Silverman concludes. “Humility can be the antidote to arrogance. Humble individuals have a different personal orientation. They don’t act as if they are superior to others. They’re willing to see themselves accurately, and they want to know what their weaknesses are. Showing humility is not a sign of weakness — it’s a trait we want our leaders to have. Humility prevents excessive self-focus and allows a leader to develop better relationships with employees.”

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