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The Office Curmudgeon Is Better at His Job

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We have so much advice to sift through, when it comes to achieving work-life balance. One expert says to get a hobby. Another advises us to stay positive, or to cultivate friendships. While the rest of us are focusing on these things, it seems the office grump is better at his job -- even though he probably doesn't care what any of the experts say.

We have so much advice to sift through, when it comes to achieving work-life balance. One expert says to get a hobby. Another advises us to stay positive, or to cultivate friendships. While the rest of us are focusing on these things, it seems the office grump is better at his job — even though he probably doesn’t care what any of the experts say.

(Photo Credit: jonkeelty/Flickr)

Dolores Albarracin and Justin Hepler, researchers from the University of Illinois and the University of Pennsylvania, have just published a study in the Journal of Social Psychology indicating that grumpy people are better at their jobs.

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Activities and Hobbies

Among other things, the study found that the guy in the office who is difficult to get along with probably does not engage in outside-of-work activities. This enables the office grump to focus on his job activities and do them well.

This does seem to fly in the face of so much advice out there that to be best at our jobs, we must cultivate hobbies and outside interests.

The bottom line is that we shouldn’t spread ourselves too thin. Best to choose a few things to focus on and become expert at them.

Positive Outlook on Life

Here is where it gets funny. People with a positive outlook on life are more likely to be more interested in a varied assortment of activites. People with a more negative outlook, such as the office curmudgeon, are less outgoing. In short, negativity improves job performance due to increased focus.

While no one would recommend being surly to your co-workers in order to get ahead, this information might give you new respect for the crankier folks in your office. Keep them around; they might be good at their jobs. 

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have an office grump? Tell us about it! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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L.A. Stevens

I am an acknowledged introvert and I have laser focus when it comes to work. I am not grumpy and I genuinely want people around me to be comfortable. But my focus may appear to be grumpiness to extroverts. Actually, I’m also an optimist (deep down) and I have a large number of interests (though because I am focused on work first, I rarely get to indulge myself in them). Still, I feel an obligation and also PREFER to focus intensely on my work. I would absolutely agree that I can do the job of 2-3 standard, extrovert employees who… Read more »

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