Nice guys finish last. This is a phrase we are all familiar with. How did this phrase become the popular cliché that automatically places the ‘nice guy’ at the back of the line? Is there more to it than simply being nice? What are some of the psychological indicators that ring truth to the cliché?
In the video below, Jordan Peterson unpacks some of the psychological traits associated with the ‘nice guy’ and if the presence of these traits condemns them to remaining at the back of the line forever.
One of the most prominent traits of the ‘nice guy’ is possessing the characteristic of agreeableness. People who are agreeable are often unsure of what they want in life, and have no idea of what steps to take to move forward. Their actions are often the result of placing self-imposed pressure on themselves, out of fear of how other people will be affected by their decisions. This thought process generally does not bode well for those wishing to advance their careers, as they are often at a disadvantage in negotiations which affect themselves.
A disagreeable person is more likely to state what it is exactly that they want, and will be focussed on maximising their own interests, as opposed to an agreeable person who will be willing to put their own interests aside, for the benefit of others.
Hope is thankfully not lost. There are techniques and ways to minimise the negative impacts of being an agreeable person when making decisions. The first is always telling the truth and saying what you think. This may not be easy initially. One way to start is by not lying. This is far easier than telling the truth. When deciding to not lie, the only other options are, not saying anything, or telling the truth. Once the truth starts being told regularly and your actual thoughts are expressed, if a situation arises that you are unhappy about, you will be more inclined to state the reasons that make you unhappy. This will assist you in negotiations as you will be more likely to state what it is that you want, or in the very least, you won’t state anything that harms your interests for the benefit of others present in the negotiation.
This type of assertiveness training can go beyond professional environments. These simple methods can be applied to almost all interactions with other people, whether they are in professional or social situations.
Don’t settle for the situation you are in currently, if you are unhappy. Assess what actions you took, against your own interests that contributed to where you are currently finding yourself. Engage with those in your life, social and professional, and state what you wish to achieve based on where you want to be. Not where you think others would like or expect you to be.
If you could push a button, and your life would be your definition of perfect, what would that look like? What small steps could you take today that would get you on that path?