Whoever coined the phrase that “Nice guys finish last” didn’t provide as much convincing evidence as the psychiatrists who maintain that their research indicates that nice guys tend to have stronger relationships, better health and superior performance on the job. That would seem like it is a long way from finishing last.
Researchers asked managers what type of candidates they would most likely higher. The managers greatly preferred the applicants who scored high on agreeableness. In fact they said they would choose these applicants over people who were smarter but less agreeable.
One reason managers said they followed this policy is that they found the nice guys were better at their work. An investigation found that conscientious employees received better reviews if they were always agreeable. Employees who were hard working and reliable but not very nice received lower ratings than the industrious, nice people.
Niceness has personal benefits too. It appears that nice people have better marriages, better relationships with their children and greater overall satisfaction with their lives. There were some health factors too. Researchers reported that people scoring low on agreeableness were more likely to experience thickening of the carotid arteries which is a major risk factor for heart attack. On the other side, those who scored high on agreeableness reported experiencing less stress something that could benefit both relationships and health.
When you add all of this up, the benefits of being agreeable depend on how you define success. If success is obtaining the things in life that are most likely to lead to long-term happiness good health, strong relationships and enjoyment then nice people have a distinct advantage. So all things considered. It’s a nice idea to be nice.
Gregory B. Anderson-director