FFE Magazine

How to turn these 4 top sins to your Advantage

Greed, envy, pride and wrath. Could these sins actually hold the secrets to a successful career? Experts believe that they do — but only when used moderately.

Neuroeconomist and professor of economics at Claremont Graduate University Dr Paul Zak said ‘There are certain circumstances where the deadly sins can be useful,’ leading to benefits in the workplace. Greed, for example, can motivate and drive people to seek more, hauling others with them.

Zak added ‘Your brain is (working out) strategies to make you be successful. Sometimes those strategies will lead you to exhibit some of the seven deadly sins.’

Good anger motivates performance according to author Anne Kreamer.

Business journalist and author Anne Kreamer meanwhile explained ‘We are wired to react by the hormones in our body.’ She said that wrath or anger is a common reaction, albeit seen negatively by co-workers. However, she cited that ‘There is good anger. It can motivate performance and it can help us to right wrongs and all sorts of things that are important in our culture and lives.’

Psychologist and consultancy firm vice president Marjie Terry described that people will inevitably show pride, envy, greed and sloth in the workplace since they spend a lot of their time there. She stressed the importance of control, and said that ‘The people who get ahead and who are respected by their clients … are people who learn to control these things and spin them into positives.

‘If you don’t learn how to control them, you’re not going to go very far professionally.’

Both Zak and Kreamer gave a word of caution: while the deadly sins easily boost self-motivated behaviour, leading to short-term success, they can cause friction in the long run. Trust is still needed to optimise relationships in the workplace.

‘These emotions are part of us because they have some adaptive value,’ said Zak. ‘(Overall) it’s important to align what’s good for you as an individual and what is good for the larger organization.’

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