Can Nice Guys Finish First?

Years ago, baseball manager Leo Durocher said, “Nice guys finish last,” and ever since he spoke those words in 1939, the good guys have been playing catch up to everyone else.

Writer J.T. O’Donnell recently posted an item on listing the “Four Toxic Words That Hurt The Unemployed,” and what do you know, “nice” made the cut.

Unemployed topped O’Donnell’s list and words to avoid by the employment-challenged in their quest for work. His premise is you need confidence to get a job, and using the “U” word leaves a job-seeker looking weak and defeated before the game even starts.

So during a phone interview the other day, I heard myself start to utter the “U” word, and I caught myself. Now which is worse, a quick and dry, “I was unemployed during that time,” or my stumbling response of “during the in between?”

Ewww, now that was a real catch. I’m sure the interviewer didn’t see right through that one.

“Try” and “open” were also on the list. Apparently it’s weak to say you try to do something. O’Donnell explains that it leaves the interviewer feeling like the person tries and fails a lot. Personally, I think earnest people use the word because they seldom feel like any endeavor is 100 percent successful and have the need to qualify their successes.

And open makes the list because it makes the job-seeker appear unfocused and uncertain what they are good at. O’Donnell suggests never saying you’re open to anything.

I’ve noticed in the course of interviews, that the more authoritative you can make yourself seem, the better people respond. They want people with focus and substance. They prefer people who speak with a strong, expert voice.

So even if you have many skills and talents, it’s best to focus on the few you do well and know where you want to go.

Now “nice” ranked No. 2 on O’Donnell’s list, his point being that a hiring manager is looking for employees who add value to the company and not just a friendly work environment. If the choice is nice or valuable, what are most people going to choose?

I’ve spent the past few years attempting to disprove Durocher and show that nice guys don’t always finish last. Believe me, there are days when you look over and see the bad guys getting ahead and you wonder if you’ve chosen the right path.

But keep a good thought all you nice gals and guys out there. I think hiring managers want value and being nice can’t hurt.



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