Do you believe that people are inherently selfish? That they are motivated purely by selfish wants and needs? If yes, then you are a cynic, and you have a deep mistrust of people.
Sometimes, it’s beneficial to be a cynic, particularly in fields of work that require people to evaluate whether the motives of a person are clear and unblemished. Some of these fields of work include law, journalism, and private investigation. But does it apply in the corporate workplace?
Although the binary of “good” and “bad” does not exist, there are times when a co-worker or a boss deliberately set you up for failure. For instance, when a coworker sabotages your efforts to present in front of your team. You ask them to give you feedback, but they deliberately misinform you of what needs to be done.
Another example of sabotage is when your boss unjustly and harshly criticises your work immensely even though there is nothing wrong with it. You are then forced to change your work, which decreases its quality.
It’s easy to become cynical and grumpy during the instances mentioned above. Anyone would switch to survival and defensive mode if they continuously experience bad treatment at work. Furthermore, we start to become suspicious of any acts of kindness directed towards us.
The effects of cynicism in the workplace
Unfortunately, being cynical has negative impacts. Previous studies have shown that being cynical leads to reduced job satisfaction and commitment, and it raises employee motivation to quit.
George Banks of Longwood University said that cynical employees tend to be grumpy with clients and customers, rude to co-workers and bosses, less motivated, and become bitter employees who are not engaged at work.
Indeed, suspicion of others creates disengagement. It leads to depersonalisation and withdrawal, which are both linked to burnout. Being suspicious of others drives negative affect, grumpiness, and a state of grievance that drags in clients, customers, and co-workers.
Positive attitudes and behaviours lead to a positive and healthy work environment. Workers are enthusiastic, alert, active, and alert. In contrast, negative attitudes and behaviours lead to a toxic and unhealthy work atmosphere. Workers are lethargic and there is low energy.
How to handle cynicism in the workplace
How can you change the cynical mindset of an employee?
Create policies and programs that redirect workplace culture towards trust and collaboration.
Remove reward systems where individuals outshine their peers and instead reward employees for their collaborative behaviour.
Demonstrate trust in people so that other employees could follow suit.
Give employees room to make choices so that they could experience greater self-esteem and connections to co-workers and bosses.
Encourage employees to make mistakes and don’t unfairly give out criticisms.
Cynicism is a deeply rooted way of thinking that can decrease employee satisfaction and performance. It can lead to a toxic and unhealthy work environment, and cause workers to quit. There are ways to address it that need to be done at a systemic level.