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To think that people don't become financially successful by being nice?

(50 Posts)
superstarheartbreaker Thu 04-Dec-14 15:05:30

I'm too nice. As a result I have not been that successful in my career due to many " too nice" mistakes in my personal life etc. When watching the apprentice it is quite clear that the most shrewd and belligerent win.

I have many talents but I wasn't motivated by money in my youth and wasn't what I would call a shrewd operator. I'm more shrewd now but it's a bit late sadly.

I work in education and I've been bullied in a few teaching jobs although I am very happy and not bullied in my ta role. I earn a pittance though.

I went to a private school and most of the richer kids were obnoxious and entitled ( not all though).Aibu that in order to be rich you have to be fairly ruthless? Indeed in order to stay in any job you have to be good at nasty politics?

angelos02 Thu 04-Dec-14 15:08:36

I think there is some truth in what you suggest. I don't know how people can pay an employee anything less than a living wage and sleep at night.

ButternutSquish Thu 04-Dec-14 15:08:42

Not necessarily ruthless, but certainly focused on the goal. You don't have to bully or be mean to get somewhere in business but sometimes you have to be direct and make difficult decisions

angelos02 Thu 04-Dec-14 15:12:13

To see the very successful speak, you can sense their ruthlessness. I watched the Public Accounts Committee trying to grill the Chief Executives of Starbucks, Google and Amazon and was amazed at how they defended their tax dodging.

Madamecastafiore Thu 04-Dec-14 15:12:14


DH is financially successful and a very nice man to boot.

angelos02 Thu 04-Dec-14 15:16:01

I don't know whether OP means earnings of £50k a year, £100,000's, millions or billions?

Hatespiders Thu 04-Dec-14 15:16:07

The man who employs my dh as a holiday barn cleaner is quite wealthy. He owns a farm and several prestigious holiday accommodations. He's an excellent businessman, but my goodness he's a lovely person. He refused to pay just the minimum wage to my dh, and pays him more per hour. He gives a Christmas dinner cooked by his wife, to all the team and their partners. (Delicious food and drinks for us all) He'd help anyone at all in need and is much loved by all the village where he was born and brought up. His old dad (died 2 yrs ago) was loved too. His dad was a big farmer but some of the farmland has been sold since. He reminds me of Mr Fezziwig in 'A Christmas Carol', so congenial and benevolent.
So they're not all hard-headed and callous.

mooth Thu 04-Dec-14 15:17:31

The question doesn't really make sense. What do you understand 'nice' to mean? If you mean paying great attention to how other people feel, caring about their opinions of you and being a pushover then you won't do well in business like that, obviously. But I know many financially successful people who are kind, decent, good company and who have integrity.

Cherrypi Thu 04-Dec-14 15:21:47

I think your right and that's why there's a lot of miserable rich people.

cheesecakemom Thu 04-Dec-14 15:23:21

No, I don't believe you have to be a B to be successful. There are quite a lot of successful + wealthy people who aren't.
Just focus on your goals.

LetticeKnollys Thu 04-Dec-14 15:28:13

I think there's some truth in what you say, OP because that's just capitalism for you unfortunately (not that that excuses it). Obviously there will always be exceptions, so you will probably get a lot of replies like Madame's.

mooth Thu 04-Dec-14 15:28:16

I don't actually know any miserable rich people. I have known some miserable poor people.

skolastica Thu 04-Dec-14 15:33:11

I think I know where you are coming from on the 'too nice' front, OP. 'Too nice' can probably also described as 'people pleaser' (don't mean to be offensive here, so apologies if that is the way it comes across.). It's something I struggle with: being a people pleaser and being too nice.

From my observation, as an educated person who is living so far below the level of either my education or my capabilities, people who are successful financially have combination of healthy self esteem and strong boundaries.

I also think that the messages you get as a child about what you are worth/what you deserve are the level that you reach as an adult. The minimum level.

SASASI Thu 04-Dec-14 15:37:56

I know a couple of people like this - one is absolute cunt since she got a director role whereas I didn't think she was before she started climbing the corporate ladder.

Either she was & I noticed it or the workforce triggered something in her.
She's now quite a dangerous person in terms of lying & fooling people so I take nothing to do with her.

My boss is also very two faced & deceitful. I hope to be moved to a different dept when I return from maternity leave!!!

I do think some successful people have gotten there by ill mannered means but not all.

Unfortunately my 2 examples are female. I'm sure there are male equivalents just as there are equally 'nice' folk in senior positions who are there by not being a cunt.

eurochick Thu 04-Dec-14 15:42:09

I wouldn't use The Apprentice as a guide to how to be successful in business. It is an entertainment show.

Fwiw, I think you can be successful without behaving like a twat to others, but it is probably easier if you are willing to do that.

Bambamb Thu 04-Dec-14 15:53:29

I know what you mean OP and whilst I don't think every financially successful person is 'nasty' for want of a better word, I think if you have a thick skin and don't shy away from asserting yourself over others then it definitely helps in your success.
Those of us who are too 'nice' (I include myself in this) often too easily back down to those stronger characters. In my younger more naive days I assumed good karma would come back to me but it hasn't so far.

cherubimandseraphim Thu 04-Dec-14 15:56:17

In my personal experience OP I'd say you were right (and I know a fair few financially successful people - I'm definitely not though!) I'm counting both entrepreneur/city types with a LOT of money (1% types), and people who have a very comfortable upper-middle-class income and lifestyle (100k+ salaries, substantial assets).

I do know of exceptions - two I can think of are a professor/consultant in children's diseases of the eye, married to a GP who works with asylum seekers who have experienced torture - both absolutely lovely people and very politically committed too. I confess though that I'm struggling to think of others - pretty much everyone I know who is financially successful is in some way either ruthless, self-interested, corporate, mean, or not very principled.

Sorry to everyone who isn't grin

KnittingChristmasJumpers Thu 04-Dec-14 15:57:15

I don't think it's so much that people who are financially successful aren't nice - it's more that people who value themselves and don't let themselves get treated like shit tend to be valued more by others as well.

I used to be a people pleaser, always going above and beyond, never saying "no" etc and people just took advantage of me all the time. Now I put myself first - I'll tell people I'm too busy to take on the work they can't be bothered to do, I insist on leaving work at a decent time and although I don't try to be unpleasant, I also don't bend over backwards to make people like me.

It's done absolute wonders for me - people have responded to me being more assertive and I've been promoted even though I'm probably doing less than I was previously. A colleague of mine is continually overlooked despite the fact that she works from 7am-7pm most days, constantly takes on other's work and probably does a better job than me, but people take her for granted because she lets them treat her badly.

So, yes being a bit of a hard arse can make you more successful, but it's more not putting up with crap than being actively nasty.

WooWooOwl Thu 04-Dec-14 16:00:06


I know quite a few wealthy people that are are kind, thoughtful, generous people.

The ones I think are the most affected by their finances are the ones who are comfortable but have big aspirations to have more. The wannabes who constantly have to keep up with the joneses. I have found people like that to be the most belittling to this who have less, and are ruthless if they think there's something in it for them.

The ones that are properly wealthy (ime) have a confidence that means they don't feel the need to be anything other than nice to people, because they have all the need and they know it. There nothing to be achieved by being nasty.

Some of the most generous people I know are wealthy, and by that I mean properly wealthy, not what is often seen as wealthy on mn.

SunnyBaudelaire Thu 04-Dec-14 16:00:45

I think you are right - look at the British aristocracy and royal family.
Their ancestors did not get those titles and land by being 'nice' but by being ruthless, scheming murderers. ditto all the old banking names eg Baring

Bambamb Thu 04-Dec-14 16:02:15

I used to be a people pleaser, always going above and beyond, never saying "no" etc and people just took advantage of me all the time.

Knitting you've hit the nail on the head with this. This used to be me too, I was brought up with a 'work hard' ethic so never said no to any task, worked overtime fro free and assumed it would get notice and I'd get rewarded eventually. Oh how daft I was! I was totally taken advantage of. This was when I was much younger, I now realise you have to blow your own trumpet, nobody else will do it for you.

Madamecastafiore Thu 04-Dec-14 16:17:05

On the flip s

MaryWestmacott Thu 04-Dec-14 16:31:52

You don't become successful on the apprentice by being nice, however if any of hte people on the apprentice were actually capable of being successful in business, they wouldn't be on the apprentice trying to become famous - it's been running for a few years, they did a 'where are they now' on some of them, few were higher rate tax payers. Mainly the sort of skills set that you need to do well in the apprentice aren't really the sort of skills that will suit the bulk of well paid roles.

I've worked in a support role for a head hunter who placed at high levels, so I've met a lot of CEOs, CFOs of FTSE 100 companies as well as Chairmen/NEDs etc, and interestingly, there are few wankers at a high level. Generally, if you aren't likeable, you can only get so far. There comes a point when you really can't get any higher if you haven't got a good reputation (and you'd be surprised just how often receptionists and secretaries are asked their opinion on people very senior). Careers often level off at middle management levels, so I suppose some could say 'sucessful' as above average wages, but rarely people who aren't nice get to very high levels.

Heels99 Thu 04-Dec-14 16:36:26

Don't use the apprentice as a model for business!!

Karen and Nick both seem nice and have done well.

Heels99 Thu 04-Dec-14 16:37:27

Also there is a difference between being nice and being a doormat.

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