April 8, 2013

Culture Tip: Be a jerk to earn more money

The Disagreeable Businessman

Now this may be obvious to some people but there was a study done to back it up with research data. It seems to be that companies paid more per year in salary to people who were less “agreeable” than those of their “agreeable” counterpart. The difference between the two were upwards to about $9,772 more per year for men and $1,828 more per year for women.

This suggests that, while every company states that being a team player is very important, being difficult or “disagreeable” is what businesses are looking for and is rewarded. This is more so when individual managers decide how much compensation is given to employees. Beth A. Livingston, the co-author of the study, told the Wall Street Journal: “The problem is, many managers often don’t realize they reward disagreeableness. You can say this is what you value as a company, but your compensation system may not really reflect that, especially if you leave compensation decisions to individual managers.”

To be clear, the way “agreeable” is referred to in the study is synonymous with “nice”. So, not “agreeable” would be not “nice”. And while everyone can’t agree all the time, this study seems to say that they are referring to the subjects in the study being “mean” or just being a jerk in general.


The Disagreeable Tank

(This guy is getting a bonus this year!)


If being disagreeable is rewarded, then it is somewhat contradictory of the mantra of promoting the idea of being a “team player”. Being a team player assumes that there is more “agreeable” than not, because it would be chaos if there were 10 “team players” on the team that were not “agreeable”.

The Disagreeable Mob

(Meet the new sales and marketing department)

And why is this? Perhaps being “disagreeable” is also viewed as “being passionate about their ideas and opinions”. If this was the case, then you can get away saying anything just to disagree, just so you are “passionate”. You can say: “Hey Jim, I don’t agree with your idea of improving processes to increase productivity for the reason that the sky is blue and because YOU SMELL”.. just be passionate about it.

It can also perhaps be that companies would rather had openly confrontational employees rather than employees who sit around and back stab each other when they disagree. I’m sure you’ve all heard it: “Did you hear Sue’s idea of generating $1,000,000 in revenue? I think that’s a stupid idea. I also heard she’s sleeping with the boss”. It’s probably better to have everyone battle it out Mad Max Thunderdome style than to do it all cloak and dagger.

Disagreeable Sue Won

(Two men enter, One man gets a raise)

What do you think? Do you “disagree” with this article? (If so, maybe there’s a job waiting for you here)  Post your comments! We’d love to hear from you.


STUDY: Mean People Earn Higher Salaries | BusinessInsider.com




  1. [...] Culture Tip: Be a jerk to earn more money.  It seems to be that companies paid more per year in salary to people who were less “agreeable” than those of their “agreeable” counterpart. [...]

  2. [...] What is it exactly?… Prior to be calling Lift, it was called Mibbles. The Mibbles website, GetMibbles.com, now redirects to Lift.do. What was Mibbles? According to ReadWriteWeb, Mibbles was described as “a very simple tracking and encouragement tool“. While there are no revealing details about what Lift will do, we can probably assess that this will do something very similar to Mibbles. We can also get some hints on The Obvious Corporation website. On Obvious.com, you can read that “Tony Stubblebine and Jon Crosby have created an interesting new application for unlocking human potential through positive reinforcement.”  ReadWriteWeb also speculates that: You’re shown a stream of accomplishments by people who have similar goals, you’re encouraged to give yourself an award for any accomplishments you’re willing to claim publicly – then you get simple positive re-enforcement for those accomplishment. While this will have applications for public consumption, this will be most effective in a corporate intranet since it will encourage everyone to acknowledge everyone else’s achievements, whether big or small. This sounds like a good idea, but you should also read our article about non-”agreeable” people getting paid more. [...]

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