How Introverts Can Be Less Agreeable Without Being Unpleasant

Someone once said, “You don’t get out of life what you deserve. You get out of life what you command.”

Overall, introverts are the least likely to command anything in life at the behest of being too agreeable.

And being overly agreeable costs us in the end.

Reportedly, the late real estate developer Herman Russell once said, “Well-behaved men rarely make history.”

This idea is accurate because introverts adhere to the self-interest and agenda of others at their peril.

Overly agreeable people violate the first law of nature, which is self-preservation.

I read self-help books throughout the 1990s that discussed the importance of visualizing and feeding one’s self-conscious mind to bring imagination into manifestation.

Like many of us, I was programmed to “go along to get along.” And I had been going along and getting along for years without any significant success.

After 20 years of striving for financial independence, I was no further along than my first year on this journey. However, I had learned a great deal.

I networked, collected friends, and remained agreeable as a means of furthering my goals.

And nothing came out of it.

When I hit financial rock bottom, I determined that I was too soft—or too agreeable.

I was not acting according to my self-interest or self-preservation.

My networking created a legion of individuals hawking their products and services but unwilling to collaborate based on mutual interests.

I collected associates who did not have the power or influence to contact decision-makers on my behalf.

All the self-help books I had read about putting people first and catering to their self-interest did not move the needle.

As an introvert, it was already tricky and antithetical to my hardwiring to put me out there in such a fashion.

And worse, I felt like a fraud.

And I was digging out of my second bankruptcy.

Introverts Can Be Less Agreeable

Author Kristin Wong in her article, “The Problem with Being Too Agreeable,” said:

…Agreeable people are often too nice. We agree to tasks we don’t have time to do. We agree to call a truce when we’re still hurt. We agree with opinions we don’t believe. And we agree to it all in the name of being loved and understood because we think pleasing others, somehow, will make us better people… (para. 4).

Wong went on to say that overly agreeable people are indecisive and overvalue the wants of others.

Placing the interests of others before your own can have harmful effects in every aspect of your life, from being manipulated in your relationships to not earning a similar salary as your counterparts.

If you choose to be less agreeable, you must be willing to pay the price for independence.

Professor Hannah Riley Bowles pointed out how each gender is perceived differently after negotiating a job offer based on the level of their perceived agreeableness.

Bowles noted that the “Social cost” for women is often higher than for men.

Social cost is the emotional fall-out that occurs after negotiations have concluded.

In Bowles’ analysis, women are seen as less favorable after negotiations than men. The only exception is when women advocated for others.

Essentially, women are expected to be compliant and receptive to the first offer.

Contrarily, the impressions of men did not change whether they advocated for themselves or others.

Do you want to be popular or effective?

Once you determine that being overly agreeable hinders your progress in life, you have to make a critical decision.

Do you want to be popular or effective?

Once I became angry with myself and determined that moving forward, I would assume a “Take no prisoners” approach to life.

I would begin networking in spaces where like-minded people frequented.

I would cut off friends I had not heard from in years and who were valueless to my long-term goals.

I didn’t realize it then, but I discovered that I had been missing a team when I met the woman who would become my wife.

I read somewhere that men only ask for help when they can’t accomplish a task independently.

I have found this to be true.

My wife was the first woman who bought into my dreams and found her aspirations along the way.

And we dedicated our lives to building a financial empire that resonated with our core beliefs and interests.

We are both introverts and use our personalities to our strengths.

For example, when conducting business, she’s the nice one, and I play the villain.

I am not acting. Discovering my way in the business wilderness for so long has changed me to where I am comfortable being firm and aloof.

The results of being less agreeable without being unpleasant

Surprisingly enough, being less agreeable does not make you unpleasant.

It becomes your superpower.

Your energy and intentions become more focused, and you achieve more.

You don’t engage in light banter merely to connect with insignificant and irrelevant alliances.

You are cordial and professional with everyone but reveal very little about yourself.

For the first time in life, I let professional relationships develop organically.

And I deeply cherish the value of the few friends who have withstood the test of time.

Also, merely focusing on my work (stress-free) and the problems it solves increases my productivity.

Overall, I am a happier, more prosperous, and successful person.

And all because I stopped letting life push me around because I wanted to be a nice guy.

I learned a lesson from a colleague not to be nice but to be professional. Being nice gives undue energy and power to someone before they have earned it.

Whereas being professional is mere cordiality or basic civility.

It’s transactional.

And in the end, create mutual benefits based on enlightened self-interest.

Indeed, “You don’t get out of life what you deserve. You get out of life what you command.”

—Julius Haggerty

References

Bowles, H. R. (2014, June 19). Why women don’t negotiate their job offers. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2014/06/why-women-dont-negotiate-their-job-offers.

Wong, K. (2017, Feb. 2). The problem with being too agreeable. Lifehacker. Retrieved from: https://lifehacker.com/the-problem-with-being-too-agreeable-1791893359.

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