Helpful Co-Workers Are Least Liked in the Workplace

co-workersThe old adage "misery loves company" was found to ring true after a recent study done on personalities in the workplace. Craig Parks, co-author of the study and a professor at Washington State University, found out that helpful and unselfish co-workers were the least liked in office. While conventional wisdom would have you believe that helpful workers would be admired and liked within the workplace, Parks found out that they are, in fact, liked less for "raising the bar" for overall employee expectations.

The study consisted of university students playing a game over the computer with who they believed were four other players, but which were actually programmed controls and part of the game. According to Wired Science, the participants could take their points from each round or add them to a team kitty for everyone to share, which doubled their value. Players could then take a quarter of the kitty points for their own bank, which could then be turned into meal vouchers. After finishing the game, many players stated that they would not want to play with the greedy players, but in an unexpected twist, a vast majority stated that they would not want to play with the more fair players as well. Wired Science reported that many players said the unselfish participants were "making me look bad" or they were thought to be breaking the rules and had ulterior motives.

Next: Are You an Annoying Co-Worker? >>



Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

15 Comments

Filter by:
Robert

For me being selfless is actually selfish because I feel better about myself when I help other people. I don't think this person "owes" me now or I hope the boss saw me do that. It's really "do onto others" because I would hope that they would help me out when I need it.

September 01 2010 at 5:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lita

Oh, please. The worst co-worker is the one who thinks he/she is the boss and bullies all those around him/her. I worked with one. She was very good at her job but spent way too much time talking about how stupid others around her were. Few got a long with her but she held a vital position so she got away with a lot. It is workplace bullies that are the worst. There were others that were only too happy to help and didn't make the receivers of that help feel stupid. (One guy always told anyone he was training that he didn't mind answering the same question repeatedly, because some of us pick up some things quickly while others may have difficulty in that area but excel in others. He never looked over anyone's shoulder or told them to do things his way; "Whatever gets the job done," he'd say. Great trainer. I miss him.) Get rid of bullies; morale and productivity in the workplace will rise.

September 01 2010 at 4:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kfreed

It's partly plain old jealousy topped off by a heaping helping of old fashioned laziness. People who fail to achieve, no matter what the case may be, dislike their hard-working, innovative, talented counterparts. Rather than rising to the challenge and learning from those with more experience and better skills, they'd rather stew in their own stupidity and nurture their inabilities. It's an age-old emotional response to a perceived threat - not exactly ground breaking social science. It’s called pettiness.

September 01 2010 at 3:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Russell

"I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing
'Til they got a hold of me.
I opened doors for little old ladies;
I helped the blind to see.
I got no friends 'cause they read the papers.
They can't be seen ... with ME!
I'm gettin' real shot down,
And I'm feeling MEAN!!!"

Thomas Hobbes was absolutely right, people! I was so goddamned naive in my teens, twenties, and early thirties! IT'S A WAR OF ALL AGAINST ALL, A VERITABLE "SAUVE QUI PEUT"! All the good, kind, and selfless deeds of my life have been a complete and utter waste of my time, effort, energy, and financial resources! Ingratitude has been the world's repayment! Mark Twain once remarked that the fundamental difference between a human and a dog could be most keenly observed in the response to being taken off the street, warmed, and fed: THE DOG DOESN'T BITE ITS BENEFACTOR! Well, SCREW the world, the people in it, their children, and ALL their descendants. No more "Mr. Nice Guy." In the words of Aaron the Moor (from Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus"):

"O, wht should wrath be mute, and fury dumb?
I am no baby, I, that with base prayers
I should repent the evils I have done:
Ten thousand worse than ever yet I did
Would I perform, if I might have my will:
If one good deed in all my life I did,
I do repent it from my very soul."

September 01 2010 at 12:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drrllms

What responsible people need to learn is: yes you can get ahead being helpful, polite, unselfish, and hardworking. Your lazier, selfish, score-keeping, miserable counter-parts have to live with the limited success they will have because they can't be happy for other's success. I think they're the ones that have a sour-puss face when they are old too. The hard part, as an unselfish person, is learning not to be too helpful to those who ultimately resent it. Hear that gentlemen???

September 01 2010 at 12:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kevin

How does the aforementioned 'research' study confirm any notion of workplace relationships?

September 01 2010 at 12:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lisa

I agree with that statement in that all my positions require doing extra work to acquire more knowledge. I have proven in several offices that by doing that extra work eliminates more work in the long run. I think the other employees feel inadequate and insecure; therefore, they look at me like I'm crazy.......I keep in mind that I am there to do the best job possible, not to make friends.

September 01 2010 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rosemarie

After a music career of 37 years, I went into an entirely different setting. Sales Coordinator for a major trucking company, A woman working in operations was always very distant, and would not so much as give me the time of day, would remind me constantly, "She also drove truck OTR for four years." I got to be very good, loved the work and met many important people in the industry. After three years, I was told by the the Terminal Manager, "I was the best Sales Coordinator they ever had." Everyone in the office heard this. This particular woman just sat with her head down at her desk, while everyone else was verbally agreeing. Don't know to this day why she was like this. Maybe she just didn't like me, don't know. If I had a problem (she knew it) she completely ignored me. It was obvious from my first day this gal was a jerk. But, it didn't take long for me to get into this new phase of my life. I learned the business and "picked brains". Successful when going it on my own as a broker. I can understand a person's being too helpful to make themselves look good, but help or hints are always nice. You could tell by this woman's mannerism's and general demeanor, she was just an office Pain in the Ass. Could she have been jealous? I know I was better looking than she. hee hee. Actually, she really didn't have anything going for her.

August 31 2010 at 11:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Donna

How low have we sunk as a society when we are being questioned for being helpful? If looking bad is the issue then perhaps try being helpful for a change. Lazy co-workers should not and do not get rewarded in my practice.

August 31 2010 at 11:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Donna's comment
Holly

Game playing has no relation to the workplace. Stupid study. At work if I have a question, I appreciate the person who will help me find the answer or the person who can give me a shortcut to make my work easier and I am more than happy to reciprocate when I can be of assistance. In most workplaces, things run smoothly when there is teamwork. It is not a game to win. Some of the most helpful people at work are not competing with anyone to win favor. They don't want to advance because they don't want increased responsibility at work to negatively affect their home life. People in the workplace aren't preprogrammed robots. To make a broad statement that helpful people aren't liked by their co-workers based on gameplay is assinine.

September 01 2010 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jane Woodward

Your generalization from this single study seems quite inappropriate. Game behavior does not necessarily reflect the reality of the workplace, where relationships are developed and most individuals appreciate assistance when they need it and get it. Such generalizations spread internationally via AOL truly send a wrong message and may discourage people from being helpful. Try finding some studies that demonstrate something positive for a change. Many of the little news tidbids you put on your webnews are quite trivial, but at least you don't need to do damage by inappropriate generalizations.

August 31 2010 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Featured Writers

Meet the team

Picks From the Web