Personality disorders are mental health conditions that can affect an individual’s day-to-day life. It affects the way an individual relates to the world around them, including their social, occupational, and personal relationships.
For most of us, our personalities can be considered “normal”, although we all have some traits that help us to deal with our general relationships or any challenges. We are able to hold down a job and function in the everyday world. The behavior and attitude of someone with a personality disorder can cause considerable problems for the sufferer and for others. It may be that these individuals are particularly inflexible, vulnerable, difficult to talk to, irrational, or have limited and fragile coping mechanisms.
Employees with normal personalities cope and function well, show resilience, adapt to change, have the ability to endure frustrations, and are able to regulate their emotions, however, those with personality disorders don’t cope well and often don’t get along with colleagues and bosses. They may not see that they have a problem. They may blame others or consider themselves to be ‘unlucky. Personality disorders cause the affected person distress and impaired functioning and may also reduce their morale and productivity.
Below are common types of personality disorders and characteristics that can be found at the workplace:
- Obsessive-Compulsive PD – picky, perfectionist, workaholic, rigid, controlling;
- Narcissistic PD – arrogant, self-promoting, lacks concern for others; manipulative
- Borderline PD – crisis-prone, emotionally fragile or stormy, chaotic;
- Paranoid PD – suspicious, distrustful, blaming, often feels slighted and persecuted;
- Antisocial PD – lacks conscience, empathy, or remorse, uses others, dishonest, self-centered, breaks rules;
- Passive Aggressive PD – quietly and indirectly mean, sarcastic, “forgets” to do tasks they dislike.
Below are some common symptoms of personality disorders
- Difficulty relating to others
- Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships with others
- Obsessive behaviors such as strict routines, rigid views, and hoarding
- Spontaneous behaviors and risk-taking
- Emotional Instability (a person with a personality disorder may experience both negative and positive heightened emotions)
- Either a strong need for or indifference to, praise and reassurance from others
- Anxiety – of being alone or with others
- Self-harm behaviors and/or suicide
Note: No two individuals will experience same symptoms, depending on the type of personality disorder they have.
Diagnosis of personality disorders in a workplace setting is valuable because it allows the employees and employers to understand the impact such a disorder can have and allows for effective management. A diagnosis of a personality disorder can be made by a psychologist using necessary psychological instruments.
Personality disorders are changeable and adaptable. Moderation may be slow and hard, but it can be achieved with skilled psychological intervention and a willingness to engage on the part of the employee. A psychologist is able to work on matters such as the insight shown by the individual and possible workplace adjustments. Also, they teach skills that can improve an individual’s functioning and employability in terms of interpersonal skills, resiliency skills, conflict resolution, boundary setting, emotional regulation, and work-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.