To be a dick or not to be a dick…that is the question.

Last week a coworker mentioned to me that some others were talking about me being a “nice guy.” In the context of their discussion, it was meant as a real compliment and it honestly made me very happy.

Note: People do not give honest compliments, without an agenda, nearly enough. Take the time to give someone a “real” compliment. It will last with them tenfold the time it took you to say it.

But, it got me thinking of the old adage: Nice guys finish last. Hmmm, here we go down the rabbit hole of my mind further, which led to another thought. Am I too nice? Should I be tougher in the workplace? Will that get me farther up the corporate ladder?

Essentially, should I be more of a corporate dick?

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve seen or heard many things about how people should act in the workplace. Perhaps because competition is tough for jobs these days? Perhaps because…gasp…people are getting a conscience and are feeling bad about being a jerk? Or perhaps I have some deep seated “issue” that Mom drilled into me about being polite, courteous, respectful…nah can’t be that.

Last week I was in a meeting – one of those end of day, no one is happy to be there, cranky before they even start meetings – and at one point in the meeting, it seemed like someone rang the bell and the gloves were off. People were complaining about others in the room to their face. Tempers were flaring and some people (typically the higher-titled people) were what I’d call – Being a Dick.

How do they get away with it?

Then there was another incident last week (great week huh?) where a particular VP in the company was playing Mr. Passive/Aggressive. The Passive VP part would come out in face-to-face discussions.
Him: Sure, I understand your point of view, that makes sense, actually it lines up with what I’m thinking….blah, blah.
The Aggressive VP part would come out in email. At night. After 10pm. Blasting people.

How do they get away with it?

A third example actually happened quite a while back when Cubicle George tore into a coworker for something completely meaningless…in public. Was anything done about it by HR? Nope.

How do they get away with it?

Me on the other hand, I am very respectful of my coworkers. I don’t belittle them in public, I am always respectful of their role and, well, go out of my way to be nice. Much of this is due to the fact that I don’t have anyone reporting to me and therefore need to convince people to help me get my job done. And,
ultimately, people tend to be more responsive when you are nice vs. bitching them out.

I view it as we’re not that much different from a professional sports team. All players in a team sport have a role. You have quarterbacks and linemen. You have pitchers and right fielders. Goalies and defensemen. Drivers and pit crew tire guys.

And, apparently guys that spread Tide detergent on the track after yet another incident at this year’s Daytona 500. Great free advert for Tide, but was that race cursed or what? But, I digress.

Companies, like sports teams, have a lot of roles to fill. And, like a sports team they all need to “click” in order for the team to perform at its best and ultimately succeed. Sure, sports teams have their share of dicks. They are often labeled the “cancer of the clubhouse” and typically are shipped off to another team in a trade at some point.

From what I’ve seen, at least in my company these days, there is no punishment for being an a-hole. And, there are no trades. In fact, I’ve heard many coworkers who have had their yearly review and been told – you need to be more aggressive and demanding; if you want to get ahead you’ll need to act like that.

Wait, what? Not only will you not trade me, but you will reward me for being an a-hole?

Additionally, in most office environments, it seems that teamwork is becoming more rare. Oh sure they say that we all need to work together in order to achieve our goals. But, this seems to be more lip service as people are not acting like it in the trenches.

More often than not, it’s a game of Corporate Survivor with each department, and the workers within, treating the daily grind as it’s either us or them. With an attitude of: First and foremost I need to meet my goals…Company goals?
Who will be voted off? Who will get to stay?

Maybe it’s a function of a tough job market and everyone is looking out for themselves (and their family) so they see it as the equivalent of being in the woods: as long as I’m not the slowest one out there I won’t get eaten by the bear. I can understand that.

However, I’ve worked in companies and been on teams where there is true teamwork. And, with true teamwork people, teams, companies can achieve some great things. When companies do well all of our jobs are generally more secure. Thus, no real need for the Survivor mentality.

Further, I’ve gotten to where I am now in a polyester cubicle smaller than most prison cells by being a solid worker who has done his job well and made is bosses and company stronger. I would also bet my next paycheck that you would find countless examples of coworkers from previous gigs who would say I was a nice guy who succeeded because of the relationships I have built. See when the day is done, I believe most of business success is built on relationships.

Unlike the TV show were the last one to survive gets the million bucks, do you really want to be the last one to survive at the company? I think not.

So this brings me back to the original question: To be a dick or not be a dick?

I choose to not be a dick. Maybe it will hurt my ladder climbing aspirations, but it’s the choice I’ve made. And, if you are my coworkers, I hope you choose the same.

What will you choose?


About CubicleViews

Observations, thoughts & random bitching about cube life, food, beer, wine, whiskey and sometimes politics. Living the dream in a 6×8 doorless polyester walled cell.
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5 Responses to To be a dick or not to be a dick…that is the question.

  1. lushtoblush says:

    Very inspiring! Glad I’m not the only one! Here are my 20 (nice) rules of power for those that agree with this post!

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