Nice people earn less money… but what’s considered ‘nice’?

Apparently if you’re nice at work, you are most likely earning less than someone is considered a bitch or a jerk.

(I read this in the Metro News in August 2011 and drafted a post, but never got around to posting it until now :P)

The study from San Antonio, Texas conducted by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Ontario here in Canada shows that meaner people make more money.

They surveyed 10,000 workers over 20 years and found that meaner men earned about 18% more than their nice guy counterparts, which translates into $9,972 more per year for being a jerk for men.

For women, the gap is a bit smaller at meaner women earning 5% more than their nicer colleagues.

In reading this, I thought to myself: Yeah I could see that making sense.

Know why?

Because I don’t consider myself being a doormat at work.

It might (no, DOES) translate into me being a ‘bitch’ sometimes, but it’s a necessity.

(No I really don’t think of myself as a ‘bitch’, but I have no doubt that people have called me that before.

The nicer words used by other more tactful folk are probably “headstrong”, “blunt”, “no-nonsense”, “honest”.)

Maybe when you hear the word “mean” to describe a colleague, they’re not really being mean.

They’re actually just trying to do their job properly, but people subjectively take it the wrong way, and feel slighted.


  • If I am paid a salary, I won’t work more than 40-45 hours a week.*
  • I say “No” a lot to things that are not my responsibility**
  • I fight/negotiate a lot for stuff that matters like my rate
  • I don’t sit in the office until 8 p.m. pretending I’m working harder than my colleagues
  • I’ll tell you politely if there’s something wrong, but people misinterpret it as me not being a ‘nice team player’
  • I don’t help other people who are lazier and less competent than I am***
  • I don’t back down when I feel/know I am right****

*That’s what they pay you for, as a working person. I put in the extra 5 hours in ’45’ because I do like to do a good job when I’m at work and sometimes you need a few more hours.

**For instance, if I am in charge of one area of the project, I am not going to help someone else do their job even if they ask me nicely to do so.

Unless it is in writing or agreed upon explicitly by the project as a whole that I help out, I don’t do it.

This is because this helping will not only suck the life out of me and destroy my working schedule by adding on extra hours, it also makes me a potential scapegoat for anything that goes wrong.

The person responsible there, can say: Oh but FB was the one who was supposed to do that part. I gave it to her and she said she’d help, but she totally f*cked it up. Even if it isn’t true.

***If we are presumably paid the same salary/rate, then they should know their jobs as I know mine.

I don’t mind helping out for little things or to offer 10-minute sessions of advice or to guide them, but I have been asked before to do their ACTUAL JOB for them. This is where it crosses the line for me.

Unless they give me their salary for doing their job, I don’t do it.

****I have been asked to lie to the client on numerous occasions and I won’t do it.

I’ve also been asked to make things complicated for the client so that we can get more work in the future, and I won’t do it. I like things done correctly, simply and to the best of my abilities in the environment.


So what if people call me names?

It’s no skin off my back, and I have confidence in three things about myself:

  1. I know what I am worth to my client and to the project/job
  2. I know my job and if I don’t know the answer, I am going to damn well find it
  3. I don’t work more than I have to and I have more free time

Besides, I’m not rude at work.

There’s a line between being rude and being honest/frank/blunt. I try not to cross it.

I’m still what I consider to be a nice person who is friendly and agreeable to work with, but sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make a delicious omelette.

So, what do you think about the above findings?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.