The Personality Trait That Probably Won't Get You Promoted

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 06/05/2015 | 11:45 PM EDT

Being nice doesn't always work in the office space

Being likeable is a great trait to have especially when applying for a position. But it turns out being agreeable doesn’t necessarily translate into getting a promotion on the job.

Research suggests being cooperative, flexible, tolerant and forgiving may actually put you at a disadvantage, as “nice” people are less likely to assume leadership roles.

A study conducted at the University of Minnesota determined that interviewers most desire candidates who are hardworking and pleasant, reports Business Insider. Being agreeable also came out on top when looking at personality traits that best predicted employee success.


Things took a turn when a group of researchers explored how those very personality traits measured up when determining a promotion. A study led by researchers at the University of Notre Dame, Cornell University, and the University of Western Ontario, found that agreeable employees are paid substantially less than their disagreeable coworkers.

Agreeable people are less likely to take on managerial positions, the study found, and people are less likely to recommend employees for advancement when the employees were high in agreeableness.

People high in agreeableness typically manage smaller teams than those who are more logical and analytical, the study found. While well-liked by their co-workers for being “warm” and “cooperative,” nice workers come off as less competent than their disagreeable peers.

But just because you’re general disposition to be agreeable, doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to ensure your career doesn’t remain stagnant. Insider suggests highlighting different aspects of your personality at different stages in your career. Do what is necessary to get the job, but once you assume the role be sure to “promote your own interests” as well as others, and be sure to be more assertive. Being nice is great, but it can also have you standing in last place.

(Photo: Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis)

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