Input by Ustazah Nuurunnuur
Referenced psychology article can be found here.
In today’s culture of “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”, especially lauded in the media, at times it can feel like being humble gets you nowhere in this life – not praise for your hard work, the credit that you rightly deserve, or perhaps even the job that you wanted.
At times, even, it seems that the ones who get what they want, like that cushy promotion, are toxic people - those who are egotistically preoccupied with themselves, have narcissistic tendencies, and a sense of grandiosity to boot.
On the other hand, in the vein of being humble, some people may avoid talking about their achievements at all. However, this could be detrimental when sitting for a job interview or being considered for a promotion, and their supervisors need to be familiar with these achievements to assess their capabilities for a job role.
Recently, in a psychological study of 110 Singaporean employees in a variety of industries and positions, it was found that toxic employees were more likely to have high performance ratings from their supervisors only if they had high political skills. Honest and humble individuals with high political skills, therefore, also received high performance ratings. In fact, for tasks such as team facilitation, these individuals received even higher ratings than their toxic peers.
So, what makes up political skill?
Firstly, it entails showing genuine interest in others in a way that is obvious - this also requires confidence. Secondly, actively listen to others, and get to know about them as people. This involves getting to know not just their professional interests, but also their personal ones. Thirdly, build a network with diverse key individuals. Again, this requires confidence, and the ability to approach and converse with individuals of a perceived higher status.
So how can one be humble and have high political skills? It all boils down to intention.
For example, showing genuine interest in others is not the same thing as flattering them to satisfy an ulterior motive. Rather, it’s getting to know others for its own sake. Ultimately, having a good rapport with people would in turn encourage them to be more willing to listen to your suggestions.
Finally, with all the knowledge and success that we attain in this life, it is important for us as people of faith to remain humble by constantly purifying our intentions. After all, our blessings only reach us by way of our Lord’s permission, and all the knowledge that we could ever attain on this earth is only but a little.
“And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, "The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little."”