Using aggression as a tool to get what you want can be an asset when used in a controlled and methodical way.
We’ve all heard the saying that nice guys finish last. This trope can be seen in any number of movies in which the sweet guy finds himself outshined by the jerk both in terms of his romantic and professional life. But how do these movies end? Eventually, the ‘nice guy’ gets the girl and the promotion. And let’s be honest, no one wants to see the jerk win. So, do nice guys really finish last? And what does it even mean to finish last?
A study completed by over 20 years found that the salaries of those who were less agreeable were higher than those with a more pleasant disposition. You may think this is a bleak state of affairs for the nicer among us but keep reading to get the full picture and see who actually finishes first and last.
The aforementioned study did find that less agreeable men earned as much as 18 percent more than more agreeable men. The number is not as nearly as high for women, although less agreeable women did earn 5 percent more. However, these findings are only about salaries and finances. It says nothing about who is more likely to get promoted or have a good relationship with their coworkers. In fact, being less agreeable may actually prohibit you from getting ahead in the workplace. More and more businesses and organizations are looking for people with interpersonal skills, like communication and emotional intelligence, and have no tolerance for jerks. Being disagreeable and aggressive also won’t gain you any points with how your coworkers and peers view you. It’s no surprise that people with these seemingly negative traits are viewed as over-compensating for possible insecurities they may be feeling. All of this begs the question: what does it actually mean to be successful? Is an extra bump in your yearly salary worth the cost of not having a positive relationship with your coworkers? The not-so-nice guys may make more but that comes with lower chances of getting promotions and positive evaluations from management, which is especially important for firefighters who have to spend large amounts of time together. Interpersonal relationships are vital to maintaining a positive working environment in the firehouse so being a jerk will not endear you to your coworkers or chief. The choice is yours: would you rather be the firefighter known for being a team player or the firefighter who makes more than their colleagues and is regarded as a jerk?
Now you may be thinking that it’s actually jerks who finish last, but that’s not quite the case either. While aggression may be associated with being less agreeable, striving for what you want professionally is not a bad thing. Using aggression as a tool to get what you want can be an asset when used in a controlled and methodical way. When applied to situations with tact and respect, aggression can be used as a way to succeed.
As with most things in life, this is not a clear-cut situation: it’s simply not that simple. Perhaps the mistake is assuming a simple dichotomy exists between nice guys and jerks, winners and losers. The picture is much more complicated than that. While jerks may make more, nice guys are more well-liked. Furthermore, there seems to be a ceiling to how much further being a jerk can actually get you. A little aggression applied in the right situation at the right time can be used to your advantage, yet it’s never a bad idea to keep another well-worn saying in mind: treat others as you would like to be treated.
Photo By iStock Images