Everyone’s Favorite Jerk: Does It Pay To Be Mean?

An excellent article in The Atlantic will have you wondering if you have enough aggressiveness in you to succeed in business (and sometimes life). The article will have you nodding in agreement and shaking your head as you think about your own actions and the way the leaders and takers in your life act.

To sum it up, takers (AKA jerks) don’t win, but disagreeable givers do! It’s a fine line, but it comes down to the fact that sharing and helping others, even if you have to be a bit disagreeable to do it, will get you further  than passivity.

The distinction that needs to be made is this: Jerks, narcissists, and takers engage in behaviors to satisfy their own ego, not to benefit the group. Disagreeable givers aren’t getting off on being tough; they’re doing it to further a purpose.

Smile at the customer. Take the initiative. Tweak a few rules. Steal cookies for your colleagues. Don’t puncture the impression that you know what you’re doing. Let the other person fill the silence. Get comfortable with discomfort. Don’t privilege your own feelings. Ask who you’re really protecting. Be tough and humane. Challenge ideas, not the people who hold them. Don’t be a slave to type. And above all, don’t affix nasty, scatological labels to people.

The jerks of the world, as a general rule, don’t succeed because they end up burning so many bridges along the way that when things go wrong, the people quickly turn on them. We don’t want to be around jerks, unless they’re our jerks, meaning, we like it when people aggressively help us along the way. Nicely stepping on a few feet won’t bother you if it advances your cause or provides certain benefits.

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