There's No Hiring Advantage in Being a Jerk

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Everybody has those coworkers — and those bosses. You know: They push you around or sneer at your work or just undermine you at every turn somehow. Working with really unpleasant people is a life skill every needs, unfortunately. On the plus side, it's not a necessary trait to get ahead.


That's the conclusion of some new research from psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley. The research team wanted some insight into whether nice people do or don't finish last, so they followed a group of students for more than a decade through their early careers. The study participants displayed a normal spread of personality traits, some good, some bad, but in the end, scoring high on disagreeable traits didn't correlate with a higher rate of promotion or success than being "generous, trustworthy, and generally nice."

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In other words, you don't actually gain anything from being nasty on the job. The bad news is that the study also found no strong correlation between performance and a pleasant nature, so jerks tend to get promoted at the same rate as nice people. That said, plenty of other research has found innumerable benefits to cultivating kindness in your professional life. In fact, approaching your work culture with compassion pays off big time — even if that means understanding that sometimes your awful boss is awful to you because their brains are overloaded and don't know what else to do.


In the end, there's not as much research supporting toxic behavior as a means to get ahead, so give yourself a break and build bridges at work where you can.