A study by the authors of the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations showed that employees with poor people skills pay a “jerk tax” when being considered for promotion. The online poll, which analyzed 1,650 promotions, debunked the common misconception that jerky behavior is necessary to get ahead in business. The study collected responses via an online survey from 550 book readers in September of 2010 and according to its results, 92% said having poor interpersonal skills hinders advancement in their organization.

Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations, says riding roughshod over others does not increase one’s chances of promotion–in fact, it’s inhibiting. “Too many employees suffer under the misconception that they have to be a jerk to generate the results necessary for workplace advancement. However, those most likely to be promoted excel not only in adding value but also in their interpersonal competencies,” Grenny said.

According to respondents, those most likely to advance in the workplace have strong interpersonal skills, are strong contributors and care a great deal about their organization. The research also reveals that the combination of strong interpersonal skills and strong results are by far the best predictor of whether an employee will be respected as a leader after the promotion.

Grenny advises employees interested in climbing the corporate ladder to learn how to generate results without generating contempt by developing their ability to communicate candidly and effectively with co-workers. He offers four tips for navigating crucial conversations to generate results while improving relationships.

4 Tips to Climb The Corporate Ladder

  1. Invite dialogue.
    Effective leaders create dialogue while “jerks” settle for monologue. After confidently sharing your views, invite others to do so as well. If you are open to hearing others” points of view, they”ll be more open to yours.
  2. Help others feel safe.
    “Jerks” disguise their harshness as “brutal honesty.” In contrast, effective leaders find a way to be both 100% honest and 100% respectful.
  3. Change your emotions.
    In stressful moments, separate people from the problem. “Jerks” don’t bother with this principle–they make harsh judgments of others and act out those judgments through mistreatment.
  4. Just the facts.
    Respected leaders describe problems in factual terms–stripping out the negative labels and punitive conclusions commonly used by “jerks.” Without the facts, judgmental statements are far from motivating and create animosity and resistance.