The Four Horsemen Of The Work Apocalypse Are…

Four Horsemen of The Bad Stuff

Stuff at work fails all the time, even though we never really discuss that. People fail at things, managers and employees don’t communicate, etc. A lot of people chock it up to “Well, that’s just how it is!” (and that’s fine, because it’s a relatively easy thing to do and it helps you cope). But what if you could look at some studies/research and figure out the key things that doom work relationships? And then in the midst of all the other stuff you’re doing at work, you could make a conscious effort to eliminate those behaviors?

Well, there are studies around that. It’s all called “The Four Horsemen Of The Work Apocalypse.” What are they? 

Here’s your visual, via here:

Four Horsemen of Work Apocalypse

If you apply this to marriage, which the University of Washington did, it accounts for 93 percent (whoa!) of the demise of a relationship, essentially. If you apply it to work, which TalentSmart did, you find that 90 percent of top managers avoid “The Four Horsemen” like the plague. (Here’s more on TalentSmart, BTW.)

These all make pretty logical sense: contempt/criticism can be the same, especially from bosses. The sad fact of the matter is that a lot of bosses confuse “criticizing by yelling” with “accountability.” In reality, those are very different concepts.

Defensiveness at work is about as common as people changing their socks. If you want to understand why, take a gander at this.

Stonewalling is a huge thing that I hate at most places I’ve worked. Typically, I think people stonewall because they don’t want to take on more work or learn something new. It’s very hard to overcome, but if you want to try and overcome it, you need to make people listen to you or figure out ways to gain influence or, damn it, just become more likable. Those all still might not work, though.

Here’s another thing I guess I would add, and it works in marriage and work equally well (IMHO): don’t assume your priorities are necessarily the priorities of another person. Oftentimes, they’re not. I’ve been in so many work situations — like, maybe too many to even count — where someone working on Project-A assumes that everyone they talk to (a) knows about Project A and (b) is bought in on Project A. In reality, oftentimes 96 percent of people have never even heard of fucking Project A. The workplace is a very self-centered place, often; that’s likely only going to get worse.

Would you add anything to this list?

Ted Bauer


  1. These seem to be the trouble with relationships and all life really. But work is so strange because we are forced to be with these random people and all/everyone elses insecurities are exposed. Ugh.

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