Dear 'office jerk', please calm down because...

  • IANS, New York
  • Updated: Dec 10, 2014 13:57 IST

You do not need to behave like a jerk to come up with fresh and original ideas, but sometimes being disagreeable is just what is needed to sell your ideas successfully to others, reveals a study.

"However, difficult or irritating people should be aware of the social context in which they are presenting their ideas. A pushy strategy will not always be equally successful," said Samuel Hunter of Pennsylvania State University and Lily Cushenbery of Stony Brook University.

People are often labelled as jerks if they are disagreeable by nature, overly confident, dominant, argumentative, egotistic, headstrong or sometimes even hostile.

Hunter and Cushenbery wanted to test whether people with disagreeable personalities are more innovative and if it helps them down the line to get their fresh ideas accepted and used.

In their first study, 201 students from a large Northeastern university in the US completed personality tests before strategising together in groups of three to develop a marketing campaign.

In the second study, involving 291 people, the team used an online chat environment to find out how being in the presence of other creative and supportive colleagues helped people to share their ideas more freely.

The first study showed people do not need to be jerks to have fresh ideas.

However, such an attitude helps when you want to steamroll your ideas so that others will accept them.

The second study highlighted how important the social context is in which new ideas are being shared.

"Being disagreeable helps when you want to push your new ideas ahead or when you find yourself in a situation that is not necessarily open to original thoughts or changes," Hunter noted.

This obnoxious attitude can, however, backfire if you are working within a supportive, creative group in which ideas are shared freely, he cautioned.

"Disagreeable personalities may be helpful in combating the challenges faced in the innovation process, but social context is also critical," Cushenbery elaborated in an article that appeared in Springer's Journal of Business and Psychology.

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