What do you think of [… insert person’s name]?
It really is as simple as that. According to the social media frenzy friendly findings of a Dr Dustin Wood. He built on the knowledge that;
“A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively.”
When asked what they thought of others, people’s answers revealed a lot about their own character. As one newspaper summed up his year-long study;
“Those who emphasised the positive tended to be more positive, happy people themselves.
On the other hand, the people who judged negatively tended to exhibit high levels of narcissism, antisocial behaviour and in extreme cases psychopathy.”
An observant journalist noted;
If you want to find out it that new guy at work is a decent human being, ask him what he thinks of your manager.
I’m reminded of the famed Martin Slegiman suggestion. The only trait you need to interview for being optimism. Apparently the sole attribute that sets apart winning salespeople.
(His rules for happiness I’ve also blogged on.)
So definitely another question to add to your recruiting repertoire.
I’m duty bound to mention the possible in-field use.
Beyond the rudimentary political mapping dialogue, imagine asking a prospect the same kind of question.
Typically you’d be wary of the inbuilt bias, expecting they’ll portray only the positive of a key colleague. Yet the enthusiasm with which they divulge could well be significant.
Could anything but heaped praise suggest an angle in your favour? Can you separate the sycophant from the subjugated? If they touch upon being unenamoured, then does this also ring alarm bells as to their ability to make things happen for you?