Do you cover for a colleague when she messes up--or do you hang her out to dry? Do you instill fear in the newbies? Or do you include them in lunch outings and offer sage career advice?

Read on to discover the benefits of being the nice guy versus being the jerk.

NiceGuy

Why You Should Play Nice

It pays to be a sharer According to a recent Penn State and Duke University study, kids with “pro-social skills” (think sharing toys and listening to others) end up becoming more successful adults--meaning they’re more likely to earn a college degree and hold a full-time job by age 25.

Social skills also help keep trouble at bay The same study found that kids who scored well in pro-social aspects had fewer run-ins with the law and were less likely to have substance-abuse problems later in life.

And help you seem approachable A Yale University study showed that people--particularly women--are likely to come off as aggravating and unfriendly (or God forbid, bossy) when acting “assertive.” The one exception? Luxury-brand retailers, who apparently have better sales if they also cop a slightly snobbish attitude.

MeanGuy

Why You Should Play Hardball

Overconfidence is key In their best-selling book The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman posit that walking into a meeting and acting like you run the show (even when you’re actually clueless) could help you get ahead in your career. In other words, if you act like you believe in your own B.S. ideas, others will too.

Nice guys finish poorer More often than not, other studies suggest, agreeableness is a trait linked to lower salaries.

Narcissists tend to take more risks And therefore reap more rewards in their own careers. Although there are narcissists at both ends of the pay spectrum, these types tend to know when to suck up to someone and when to kick someone down.

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