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[Comments] (6) : Why is it that nice guys always finish last?


Posted by Susie at Thu Nov 09 2006 11:58

Maybe you should learn to golf so you have an excuse to leave work. poor john.

Posted by Sumana at Fri Nov 10 2006 06:40

One of my professors says that he believes that, in the long run, the good boys & girls win, and the bad ones lose. And, furthermore, he believes that you MUST believe this to stay sane. The long run could be the grand sweep of history, or judgment by God, or the simple sow-the-wind-reap-the-whirlwind chickens-come-home-to-roost -you-made-your-bed-now-lie-in-it consequences of wrong actions.

My sister is learning to golf!

Posted by Joe Walch at Fri Nov 10 2006 13:55

See my post: you have just got to learn how to stoop, thats how you'll win in golf.

Posted by John at Mon Nov 13 2006 12:46

Sumana & Joe: The form of your comments is interesting to me. Nobody did anything wrong or illegal. I was frustrated because my coworkers keep getting invited to play golf, hobnob with partners, etc while I get stuck holding the bag. I kept hoping that my generosity toward them would be reciprocated (being invited to hobnob next time, having someone make the work up to me by sending me home early and taking over a project, being thanked for what I did). But they didn't, and I got mad.

It's not always about good versus bad, but about overcoming the mediocrity of the status quo. I wanted some sort of validation, and didn't get it.

I'm frustrated because in the real world you have to flout your acheivements because the squeaky wheel is the one that gets noticed. This is something I am terrible at, and I'm gonna have to work on it or else risk limiting my career. I expect people to notice what I did without throwing it in their faces. But it just doesn't work that way. It never has. It most certainly didn't work that way in my mission. It's unfortunate, but there you have it. Sometimes, life just isn't fair.

Posted by Sumana at Mon Nov 13 2006 18:48

Ah, I'm sorry for misunderstanding. I know that women often feel that it's not nice to ask for raises, make sure they get the credit for work they do, etc. It feels like boasting, like not being nice. It sounds like you're in the same boat.

Warning: advice follows.

It sounds as though you come from a culture that rewards reciprocity even when the reciprocity is implicit, and that you're now in one that doesn't. Can you switch? There are companies (like mine) and cultures (like mine) that have more strictly meritocratic values. Like my boss says:

"The world of programming is very just and very strictly ordered and a heck of a lot of people go into programming in the first place because they prefer to spend their time in a just, orderly place, a strict meritocracy where you can win any debate simply by being right..... When a programmer complains about 'politics,' they mean — very precisely — any situation in which personal considerations outweigh technical considerations."

There really is a middle ground between saying nothing and flaunting your achievements. That middle ground depends on the culture. At an investment bank, one really does strut around crowing about one's achievement, and that's normal. So what are people doing at your company, that they perceive as normal, to simply present accurate images of themselves? Daily or weekly email status reports to the manager or team? Conversations with your manager that specifically, deliberately reveal that you're taking a leadership stance towards your colleagues?

As for your colleagues not returning favors you do for them -- I've been there too. Have you tried witholding the favors? Or proposing them as trades in the first place? That might not feel nice, but neither does "boasting."

Posted by John at Fri Nov 17 2006 13:00

Fistly, I must admit that I know nothing about your industry, Sumana. But I would imagine that your experience is because you work in a small company, and may not be industry-based. I would imagine, for example, that a software manager at Microsoft may have an experience closer to mine, because the comraderie and the whole political environment becomes complicated. Alas, we can't all work at Frog Creek.


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