Being a jerk?

Being a jerkQ: It seems that crude, rude and loud behavior is being rewarded.  Being nice is not paying off. Do I have be a jerk too?  Help!

A:  You have now joined a long list of clients who pose the same either /or conundrum:  Be a jerk and get attention or be nice and go unnoticed.   Being a jerk may catapult you into the center of attention; but beware–your light will flame out as quickly as lit.

Let me share with you the key points from an Atlantic Monthly article (June 2015) that I thoroughly enjoyed, with the provocative title: Why It Pays To Be A Jerk .  According to the article:

…a touch of jerkiness can be helpful. … if your job, or some element of it, involves a series of onetime encounters in which reputational blowback has minimal effect. The second is in that evanescent moment after a group has formed but its hierarchy has not. (Think the first day of summer camp.) The third…is when the group’s survival is in question, speed is essential, and a paralyzing existential doubt is in the air.

As a business professional, it’s highly unlikely that you will risk being a jerk based on the above criteria.  Few of your colleagues will cede leadership to you because their survival is at stake.  The article ends with the following caution:

 …being a jerk is likely to fail you, at least in the long run, if it brings no spillover benefits to the group; [and] if your professional transactions involve people you’ll doesn't pay offhave to deal with over and over again

My advice: Be yourself.



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