A recent study found that being agreeable—acting more cooperatively and placing greater value on relationships—equates to less pay. Although the negative effect of “playing nice” showed up more for men than women, agreeableness did affect earnings and promotion possibilities for both men and women, at least in the US. The study included thousands of Americans.
In this time when collaboration seems to be the key to success, it looks like the strong voice of dissent is still valued.
In this time when collaboration seems to be the key to success, it looks like the strong voice of dissent is still valued.The study clarified that being disagreeable did not include expressing anger, demanding to be heard or acting rude; it defined "disagreeable" as assertively expressing a contrarian viewpoint.
Does this mean women should push themselves to voice their opinions? Yes and maybe. Yes, you should share ideas and perspective that conflict with the general view because they can be useful and your contribution will be noticed. Yet the way you express yourself will affect how well you will be heard and judged.
Even though the definitions of what is considered appropriately “masculine” and “feminine” are blurring, the outdated judgments people make on what is gender-acceptable behavior remains. The study on agreeableness found the range of what was acceptable behavior in “disagreeable” men is still broader than for women. The persistent double standard where men are called “honest and direct” and women are called “bitchy” when standing up for what we believe still exists whether we like it or not.
Regardless, the results bode well for women who want to be seen as more than nurturing and caring.. Smart, strong women have other strengths too. In my research, I found the current generation of high-achieving women in the workplace to be:
As I have mentioned in many of my previous blogs, the overuse of any strength can be harmful. For example:
How can you use your strengths to be positively disagreeable?
There is a payoff for letting your voice be heard even if you run the risk of being called bitchy. Practice presenting what you believe in a way that others will hear, understand and hopefully, align with your thinking. Listening more and practicing patience can make you even stronger when you decide to disagree.
You can find more tips on the post, The Fine Art of Female Assertiveness and in the book Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction.