INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK
ABSTRACT – The definition and the outlook of a cynic is explained, following which the main reason for a cynical attitude is looked at through the perspective of dissatisfaction, disenfranchisement and disengagement on the lines of organizational justice theory and equity theory. The impact of organizations political undercurrents on organizational cynicism is looked at. The cynical behavior shown by employees towards organizational change is also given consideration. The impact of cynicism on an organization is seen from the perspective of an employee is analyzed. The impact of a cynic’s position in an organization and its impact are also seen briefly. Finally ways to address organizational cynicism are mentioned such as empathetic communication channels and information should be conveyed properly.
A Cynic’s Outlook
Merriam-Webster defines a cynic as a person who is a faultfinding captious critic; especially one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest.1 Cynics or practitioners of cynicism show a few develop a mindset which leads them to have little or no trust on others, they blame external factors for their problems/situations, are always ready to offer criticism, are pessimistic and often resort to sarcasm to spread divisiveness and create a negative environment. Many a time’s cynicism is used psychological shield to protect one’s self from hurt, disappointment, sadness and most importantly fear. According to Dr. Ellen Weber Cynicism distracts the brain from solution-building and rewires it to problem-blaming instead. It can also increase hormones that produce dangerous levels of stress. It rewires the brain for damaging practices such as distrust, doubt and scorn. The parts of the brain that are engaged in cynicism differ from those involved in more positive behaviors such as compassion for others or building meaningful solutions to problems. Eventually the brain moves cynical behavior from its working memory over into the basal ganglia where your mind stores habitual behaviors. At that point, choices for positive behaviors are harder to make. 2, 3 Organizational Cynicism and its Prevalence in Organizations
An organizational cynic is "one who believes that work place problems are at least fixable, but efforts at change and improvement are futile due to shortcomings inherent in the system" (Vance, Brooks, & Tesluk, 1995). Cynicism is everywhere; widespread among organization members in the United States (Kanter & Mirvis, 1989), Europe and Asia (Kouzes & Posner, 1993). Organizational cynicism is an attitude. It is a state that is more readily changeable, compared with a personality trait. This concept further implies that a cynical attitude is subject to the same change process limitations as are other attitudes (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986; Chaiken, 1980). Support for conceptualizing cynicism as an attitude is found in research showing that viewing a movie intended to increase cynicism towards American business had the intended effect (Bateman et al., 1992). Cynicism is paradoxical in that the cynic must hold both positive feelings (improvability of the organization) and negative feelings (inevitable failure of change efforts) simultaneously. Meyerson's (1990) qualitative study of hospital social workers highlighted the paradoxical nature of cynicism with the observation that cynicism often expresses itself in ambiguity growing out of felt contradictions, such as simultaneous feelings of enthusiasm and frustration, idealism and realism, or hope and hopelessness. The paradoxical nature of cynicism may cause cynical employees to participate in change efforts in unexpected ways. For example, although the Vance et al. (1995) study found that more cynical employees were less likely to become involved in employee involvement activities, they also found that cynical employees were more likely to write responses to the open-ended questions in a...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document