Well, it turns out Durocher and all those pessimists were right: nice guys really do finish last, or at least make significantly less money. According to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Beth A. Livingston of Cornell, Timothy A. Judge of Notre Dame, and Charlice Hurst of the University of Western Ontario, levels of “agreeableness” are negatively correlated with the earnings of men.
Let’s begin by defining our terms. There are six facets to aggreeableness: trust, straightforwardness, compliance, altruism, modesty and tender-mindedness. Those are all nice character traits, right? Why would someone lacking those traits have a competitive edge in the workplace?
To understand why niceness might be a disadvantage, it helps to understand the essence of disagreeableness. Because being disagreeable doesn’t mean you behave like Ari Gold. It doesn’t mean you are a sociopath or intentionally inflict pain on others. Instead, those on the disagreeable spectrum are generally pretty decent folks, described by their peers as mostly amiable. However, these disagreeable people do consistently exhibit one special trait: They are willing to “aggressively advocate for their position during conflicts.” While more agreeable people are quick to compromise for the good of the group — conflict is never fun — their disagreeable colleagues insist on holding firm. They don’t mind fighting for what they want.
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