th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

Trash-Talking at Work Can Actually Boost Motivation and Performance

Turns out, those harsh words aren't such a bad thing after all
By Rose Leadem |


 

 

From bosses to athletes to even brands, most of us engage in trash-talking occasionally. While this critical chatter might seem like it could have only negative repercussions, it turns out it can spark those being talked about to work harder, depending on the context.

To determine the true effects of trash-talking, Wharton School visiting scholar and Georgetown professor Jeremy Yip and Wharton professor Maurice Schweitzer conducted a number of experiments. Their goal was to uncover the effects that trash-talking has on a person’s behavior, performance, motivation and competitive nature. The pair recently discussed their findings and research paper, “Trash-Talking: Competitive Incivility Motivates Rivalry, Performance and Unethical Behavior,” in an interview (embedded below).

 

To Yip and Schweitzer, “trash-talking” is defined as “competitive incivility,” or “uncivil remarks or aggressive communication that is expressed between opponents.” After noticing how prevalent trash-talking is among major brands and CEOs, the professors set out to examine trash-talking in the workplace. The asked a number of full-time employees at Fortune 500 companies to recall an incident of trash-talking at work -- whether it was something they said or heard -- and a whopping 57 percent of participants admitted to trash-talking in the workplace while competing for resources or recognition.

 

 

 

 

So, with a majority of employees admitting to trash-talking, how do these harsh words affect those on the receiving end? Turns out, victims of trash-talking are actually motivated by the insulting comments. In a series of experiments, Yip and Schweitzer studied participants who completed a variety of mundane tasks such as counting letters or moving things around, only to find that when people are in a competitive situation, more trash-talking occurs.

 

Crude comments like, “You’re a loser. That dollar is mine or I’m going to beat you like a rented mule,” actually motivate the trash-talking target and boost his or her performance. In fact, these negative words can have such a motivational impact that people are even willing to engage in unethical behavior in order to win and prove themselves to the trash-talker.

 

Trash-talking also transforms a person’s view of their opponent, revving the competitive landscape and boosting that individual’s motivation to win. “Trash-talking shifts targets’ perceptions of opponents to view them as rivals, which in turn, motivates targets to compete harder and perform better on effort-based tasks,” Yip explains in the video above.

 

However, managers should take note that trash-talking is most effective in competitive situations, rather than cooperative ones. If there’s no competitive aspect, trash-talking has little effect on a person’s motivation to win. So, if you’re in a team setting, don’t waste your time trying to use trash-talking as a motivational tool. The researchers found that victims of trash-talking performed better in competitive settings than they did in cooperative interactions.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

 

Trash-talking is also counterproductive when the task at hand requires creativity.

 

“When employees are working on routine tasks that require effort, exposing them to a trash-talking message that was said or broadcasted from their competitor may actually boost their performance,” Yip says. “But if that performance task is more cognitively demanding and involves creativity, then we would find that trash-talking may actually diminish their performance.”

 

 

*****

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.

 

Latest Articles

What Opportunities are Investors from Other ASEAN Countries Seeing in the Philippines?

A look at the biggest projects registered by Southeast Asian firms with the gov't in the last 6...

byPauline Macaraeg | November 19, 2017 09:00:00

10 Commandments of Successfully Managing a Business Crisis

Commandment number one is beginning preparing before anything has gone wrong

byTor Constantino | November 19, 2017 08:00:00

Help Is on the Way! (for 5 Common Obstacles Every Entrepreneur Faces)

A little creative thinking can solve big problems

byThomas Smale | November 19, 2017 06:00:00

10 Ways You're Being Tracked Without You Knowing It

Everything we do online and with technology leaves a footprint

byNina Zipkin | November 19, 2017 02:00:00

How to Teach Your Daughter Girl Power, According to This Self-Made Billionaire

Teach these lessons to your girls so they can grow up to be strong, confident and happy

byKitty Elicay for SmartParenting.com.ph | November 19, 2017 00:00:00

How Much Does it Cost to Review for the Bar Exams in the Philippines?

The fees vary but are roughly equivalent to new college graduates’ average starting monthly salary

byElyssa Christine Lopez | November 18, 2017 09:00:00

The 3 Types of People at Work Who Waste Your Time and How to Deal With Them

Do any of these time suckers work at your company? Here's how you can avoid them

byDan S. Kennedy | November 18, 2017 08:00:00

by |

5 Big Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Just Keep Making

The reality of running a high-growth startup is that the company is your boss

byDeep Patel | November 18, 2017 06:00:00

Entrepreneurs Aren't Risk-Seekers -- They Just Handle Risk Better

Managing risk is in entrepreneurs' DNA

byJohn Suh | November 18, 2017 02:00:00

Billionaires Are Teaching Their Kids Mandarin and You Probably Should, Too

There's a reason Mark Zuckerberg learned Mandarin

byYsa Singson for Cosmo.ph | November 18, 2017 00:00:00

Hershey Hilado, Homeless Ilongga Turned Aussie Millionaire, Topbills Speakers at Nov. 18 Entrepreneurship Conference

Event in Miriam College Quezon City is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week celebration in the...

byPauline Macaraeg | November 17, 2017 10:00:00