Study: Rude Employees Out-Earn Their Nicer Colleagues

Anyone who's ever done a good deed likely is familiar with the phrase, "Nice guys finish last." Whether it's giving a lift to a stranded motorist that makes you late for work or a small loan to a friend that never gets repaid, doing a good deed can ultimately feel like the wrong thing to do.

That is apparently also true of work -- at least when it comes to pay. A new study finds that agreeable workers earn significantly lower incomes than less agreeable ones, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription may be required), noting that the gap is especially wide among men.

The study, co-authored by a trio of college researchers, analyzed the professions, salaries and wages of some 10,000 workers during a 20-year time span. The data revealed that those men who could be described as less-than-agreeable, determined by self assessment, earned about 18 percent, or nearly $9,800 more than the "nicer" guys.

The outcome was less stark among women, the Journal notes. Ruder women earned about 5 percent, or around $1,800, more than their agreeable counterparts.

"Nice guys are getting the shaft," says study co-author Beth A. Livingston, an assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School.

"The problem is, many managers often don't realize they reward disagreeableness," Livingston tells the Journal. That's problematic because paying rude people more may contradict values that a company promotes.

Results from the study, Do Nice Guys -- and Gals -- Really Finish Last?, are being presented today in San Antonio at an annual gathering of management scholars.

Whether the team of presenters decided to push and shove their way onto the stage to be the first to speak remains unclear.

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