A recent study revealed that men described as disagreeable or mean make 18 percent more money than their more agreeable peers. Disagreeable women make about 5 percent more than their more agreeable peers.
Cornell Professor Beth Livingston found that disagreeableness is often rewarded in the workplace. Over twenty years of analysis and three different surveys involving 10,000 respondents seem to confirm that being disagreeable or mean nets those individuals more money.
In addition, a study of four hundred and sixty business majors who were asked to consider information about a group of possible employees found that being nice was a factor in being chosen less often for possible employment. Potential employees who were described as arrogant or less trusting were more often chosen as managers than their more agreeable and trusting peers.
Another study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the story of the nerdy guy who goes on to make more money than the high school quarterback turns out to be untrue. Remember those “Revenge of the Nerds,” movies where the nerds make a lot of money and marry beautiful women and get revenge of their torturers, the popular kids? Sorry, that’s just a movie according to this researcher. This information was based on research that followed Wisconsin high school students forty years after graduation in 1957.
Michael Denney from the Wall Street Journal found that, “popularity pays because those who learn to play the game in high school are practicing the skills that will also help them once they are in the workplace.”
These findings seem to be almost entirely at odds with what I want to believe is right or should I say righteous. I want to believe that in the end mean, selfish people lose out somehow, and of course they do but maybe not financially. Some of the meanest young people, boys and girls that I have encountered over the years have not been from poor or disadvantaged homes. The meanest came from average or well positioned homes, not lacking in resources or opportunity.
It seems that many adults spend a good deal of time asking and or teaching children to “be nice.” Aren’t there signs, books, t-shirts and even programs that ask children to “practice random acts of kindness” or to “look out for each other?” Perhaps these misguided adults do not know that they may be dooming their young charges to a life of financial mediocrity.. So what if mean people make a little more money, who cares?
I guess this is where each of us must decide our individual truths. How far is each of us willing to go to be popular, wealthy, powerful, or considered successful. I have known people that were willing to do things that were dishonest, mean and unethical to arrive at what they called success. I still say that is important that we all strive for the triumph of goodness, decency and kindness especially in our dealings with young people.
The kids who learn to “play the game well” are at an advantage in some respects, however, these advantages have little to do with the mettle of their character. If you are one of those adults out there who insist on equal treatment for all the children before you, if you do not overlook pettiness or meanness between children, and if you believe that winning at all costs is not winning at all, I congratulate you for you are doing a noble thing. You are not just helping children that have not yet learned how to play the game but you are also helping to insure that there will always be people that care as much about the manner in which someone succeeds as the level of success that they enjoy.
Without you, our culture, our world could simply be run by the few that always know how to play the game.
Remember, all kids count.
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