Mirror, Mirror Think you excel at your job, do you? Think again, big shot. That's the finding from a study on narcissists -- people with inflated self-regard -- out of the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business. Timothy Judge, a professor of management there, had 282 people whom a psychological survey had pegged as narcissists rate their leadership and job skills. The self-adorers gave themselves high marks. But when Judge asked the opinions of the narcissists' peers and bosses, he heard a different story. Co-workers and supervisors consistently rated the narcissists poorly, saying they did an inferior job compared with other employees.

Love Thyself . . . Modestly. Within limits, feeling good about yourself confers workplace benefits, said Judge, who has studied the effects of positive self-regard in the workplace for more than a decade. But self-infatuation sows discord: Not only are narcissists (named for Narcissus, the mythological Greek figure who fell in love with his own reflection) poor sports and crummy team players, they are quick to feel threatened and defend themselves against perceived slights. The inability to see such shortcomings -- including one's own narcissism -- is a key symptom of the condition. That lack of self-awareness makes the situation difficult to remedy, said Judge, whose work is to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Damage Control "Employers should consider screening out narcissists" when hiring, suggests Judge. Characteristics -- including "grandiose dreams that seem quite unrealistic, inflated self-views, exaggerated sense of self-importance, derogation of peers who are seen as competitors, exploitation of others for one's benefit" and a hunger for excessive admiration from others -- can be measured through tests like the one he used to identify candidates for his study. As for co-workers, Judge advises: "Beware! Try to avoid direct competition" with people who seem too full of themselves. Even better, he said: "Avoid narcissists wherever possible."

-- Jennifer Huget