I am Dr. Ken Richmond Board Certified psychiatrist and telemedicine specialist. I help corporate leaders pinpoint leadership issues so they can develop thriving workplaces with less turnover, improved workplace morale, and increased organizational performance.
Today’s topic is about personality disorders. Have you ever interacted with someone where you just had this feeling of you don’t understand why they do certain things? Or you tell yourself, I just don’t get you? I mean, seriously. You simply don’t get that individual, you don’t know where they’re coming from, you don’t understand their basis for some of the things they say, or even some of the things they do.
As a psychiatrist, one of the things we are skilled at recognizing what is to be considered normal behavior versus abnormal behavior. And in doing so we can determine if somebody needs to be treated with such options like medications, therapy, or if it’s part of normal development. That is, maybe there are some things we simply must learn to get used to. And as I’m discussing personality disorders, this is going to be a very general overview of the different types of personality disorders that are out there. Keep it in mind that we all may have different degrees and of the traits from the various traits presenting itself.
So it doesn’t mean because you have certain traits that you have a disorder. The word disorder really implies that there is an impairment in your ability to function in social, occupational, in your personal life, academic life. Okay, so we’re going to start off with the overview of the personality disorders and end with at least three tips that way, you know, that I think would be successful for, you know, allowing you to have positive interactions.
The ODDs are:
The first personality disorder, Schizoid personality disorder, relates to those individuals who may act a bit oddly in the workplace, or in social settings, or even within families. They just have a different way of seeing the world or viewing the world.
Schizotypal personality disorders: those are individuals who may feel like they have special powers, or abilities, or just magical way of thinking. They may feel like they can communicate with celestial beings, for example. For some individuals, we can see how that can morph into more severe forms of mental illness. Again, the focus here again is on personality disorders.
A paranoid personality disorder is an individual who may feel like everybody’s out to get them, him or her. No matter what is going on, that’s just how they view the world, right? Everybody’s out to get me or a strong sense that “I have to get them first.”
The Wild Wild Workplace
The next set of personality disorders I will, that I want to discuss begins with borderline personality disorder. We can usually tell when there’s a patient with borderline personality disorder patient on the unit. There is usually turmoil among the clinical staff due to patient’s behaviors which can cause rifts among the staff. These individuals typically have very inflexible ways of thinking. In other words they may see situations in the absolute. That is, everything is seen as black or white. There is no in between and definitely no gray zone. You either love me or you don’t. You either think I’m the best employee, or do you think I’m the worst employee. You either give me an award or you don’t. It’s probably fair to say that you can see how this behavior can create some conflict and dysfunction in interpersonal relationships, as well as in the workplace.
The next personality disorder is histrionic personality disorder. When somebody is histrionic, they tend to want and crave being the center of attention. Does anyone close to you come to mind? At the very least, let’s not look too far from ourselves as we can be the classic example. Individuals with histrionic tendencies can be very colorful in what they do (i.e. in their dress and appearance). In other words, there’s always this flare to them. Some people may have outgoing personalities in general which can be normal. Again, the word disorder, as it is used here, means that there’s impairment in how that individual functions.
Narcissistic personality disorder is next. Do we know anybody or seen instances or know of instances where we’ve seen narcissism demonstrated? A narcissistic person tends to believe they are always right. Yes, I do mean always. They can do no wrong, however, their insistence on always being in the right can create frequent instance of conflict in relationships. To be clear, having narcissistic traits isn’t unhealthy. In any event, narcissistic personality disorder and those, the traits that are associated with that individual can result in problems in the workplace as well as functioning socially.
The next personality disorder is Antisocial personality disorder. The behaviors associated with antisocial personality disorder is very different than somebody who does not want so socialize when they attend an event. Oftentimes, we hear people say, “Hey, I’m antisocial.” In that context, they just mean that they don’t want to be around other people. The definition that I use in here is an individual who may tend to be charming, downright charismatic with no bounds. In addition, they may also have legal histories. These individuals have very little remorse for some of the things that they do.
A Dependent personality disordered individual is someone who may find it difficult to make decisions without someone else being present or having to run it by multiple people in order to make decisions. We can see this behavior play out in co-dependent relationships where one partner feels incapable of making decisions unless the other partner is involved. That person with dependent personality would find it very difficult to function or to thrive in their daily life.
Obsessive personality disorder. Often perfectionistic in their actions. These are individuals who obsess over their need to do everything correctly. If it’s not done right, their belief and perception is that [their] world will end. An example would be somebody who’s handwriting a letter. If they get to the end of the letter and they made an error they would feel compelled to start over. That is, instead of one putting one line through the error and moving ahead, they may trash that paper and restart their work. I am sure that you can imagine if that error occurs repeatedly, they’re going to have a very difficult time meeting deadlines. When this plays out in the workplace it causes both frustration, dissatisfaction, and helplessness especially if a remedy cannot be reached.
Passive-aggressive personality disorder. I think we can all recall an instance where we’ve seen passive-aggressive behaviors occur. In such cases individuals may not readily start a conflict, but they may position others people to be in conflict with each other. Know that conflict does not have to be a physical fight.
There you have the abbreviated intro to the various personality types and disorders
3 TIPS to DISARM
Trust your instincts.
Learn to trust your gut instincts.
Ask questions with the intent of rousing an alternative way of thinking. In the case of Dependent or Obsessive personality disorders who struggle to meet deadlines, one may ask: “Have you considered giving yourself more time to meet your deadlines? That way you’re not feeling all this pressure. Or, for someone with narcissistic tendencies: “Have you ever found that other individuals may have a different way of doing the same type of task versus your way of constantly doing that task?”
Set concrete expectations. You do not want and cannot afford to have any room for interpretation, misinterpretation, or reinterpretation of your instructions. More importantly, you do not want to be vague. For example, if you need a report on your desk at 9:00 AM, you make your expectation explicit and assess for barriers to the deadline being met. Avoid the common practice to say: “Get it to me when you can or as soon as you can.” For a dependent personality disorder, that will be a problem. For an antisocial personality disordered individual,
“You’ll just get it when you get it.” One can readily see how these behaviors can create some conflict for you as a leader in the workplace. I will offer that in my role as a physician, I do my best to instruct my patients to not change your medication dosage without informing me, to take their medications prescribed, and to call if they develop side effects. So again, I want you to just think of any time you interacted with somebody who had a personality disorder and just write a tip. You know, how did you overcome that or interact with that person in a successful manner?
I am Dr. Ken Richmond. I help corporate leaders pinpoint leadership issues so they can develop thriving workplaces with less turnover, improved workplace morale, and increased organizational performance. You can follow me on Facebook.com/DrKenRichmond and on all social media platforms @DrKenRichmond.