The art of being Disagreeable

After working with a wide range of egomaniacs and pushovers in companies ranging from 2 to 10,000, I started to notice what to do and what to definitely not do. This isn’t about how to manage people or manage up. It is simply something I noticed about how to deal with people in general.

You have to be disagreeable to get your way. You have to be agreeable to get people to stay with you.

This is completely disregarding skill, work ethic, and many other important factors. Ideally, we are comparing people who already operate at a high level. Otherwise, why would you even want to work with them?

Consider a person who is 100% disagreeable.

They never work for anyone and set their own hours. They have the perfect job that they wanted for themselves because they simply decided to never agree to anyone else’s wants.

Unfortunately, they also never get any customers. Maybe they die of starvation.

Now imagine the same person is about 90% disagreeable. They refuse to be anything other than CEO, but they are passable enough to deal with that they can close a few sales every year. Maybe they make just enough to scrape by.

Or maybe the same person is 75% disagreeable and they are passable enough to hire someone who can close sales and is more agreeable.

Now consider the opposite spectrum.

Imagine someone who is 0% disagreeable. Maybe they end up being taken advantage by some 100% disagreeable boss, but they still have a job.

In the best scenario, they could become a high up Yes Man for a mostly disagreeable boss.

That’s the downside if you are too accepting. Then you will become a target for the most highly disagreeable people to be taken advantage of.

In other words, you will get stuck working with assholes. This relates to another concept I have found, to try and avoid the Asshole Filters in life. An Asshole Filter is a behavior that encourages more interaction with Assholes and less interactions with everyone else.

This idea explains why most people think their bosses are assholes and yet the top companies are run by nice people. This is better than the alternative. Nobody wants a pushover manager who doesn’t fight effectively for them.

The best balance I have found is to be fairly agreeable say 75% of the time and wisely pick your battles and hold your ground as needed. People will will also take you more seriously when you aren’t arguing and trying to get your way in every situation.