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职场上好人没前途?
Why nice guys (and girls) should not always finish last

来源:FT中文网    2017-11-09 07:09



        When the novelist Claire Messud was asked if she would want to be friends with Nora, the rage-filled protagonist of her novel The Woman Upstairs, she let rip. “For heaven’s sake, what kind of question is that? Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert? Would you want to be friends with . . . Hamlet? Krapp? or Oedipus?        当小说家克莱尔•梅苏德(Claire Messud)被问及她是否愿意与自己小说《楼上的女人》(The Woman Upstairs)中愤怒的主人公诺拉做朋友时,她脱口说道:“我的天,这算什么问题?你想跟亨伯特•亨伯特做朋友?你想跟……哈姆雷特、克拉普、或俄狄浦斯做朋友?”
        “If you are reading to find friends, you are in deep trouble. We read to explore life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question is not ‘Is this a potential friend for me?’ but ‘Is this character alive?’”        “如果你阅读是为了找朋友,那你麻烦可就大了。我们阅读是为了探索生命,探索其所有可能性。有意义的问题不是‘这个人物能成为我的朋友吗?’而是‘这个角色是否鲜活?’”
        Messud pointed out that the same question would not have been asked of a male protagonist. Her fellow novelist, Meg Wolitzer, the author of, among other things, The Interestings, identified a trend for “slumber party fiction — as though the characters are stand-ins for your best friends”.        梅苏德指出,同样的问题就不会问到男主人公身上。另一位女小说家梅格•沃利兹(Meg Wolitzer)——写过《乐在其中》(The Interestings)等小说——指出一种趋势,如今流行“睡衣派对小说——好像书中人物都是你好朋友的化身”。
        In fiction, female likeability is vexatious, as it is in the office.        在小说中,女性的魅力是个令人苦恼的问题,就像在办公室一样。
        This came to mind when reading Ellen Pao’s new book, Reset. It recounts her working life at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the events leading up to the lawsuit in which she alleged gender discrimination. In the trial and press she was painted as icy and unlikeable. In the book she can appear cool and occasionally detached, but nonetheless she sustains interest.        读鲍康如(Ellen Pao)的新书《复位》(Reset)让我产生了这种想法。这本书讲述了她在硅谷风投公司凯鹏华盈(Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers)的工作经历,以及导致她指控凯鹏华盈存在性别歧视的种种事件。在庭审过程中及新闻媒体上,她被描绘成一个冷冰冰、不招人待见的女人。在这本书中,她显得冷漠,偶尔还很超然,尽管如此,她仍对世事保持着浓厚兴趣。
        The issue of likeability is one that bothered Pao herself; it seemed to wrap her in confusion. Many of her male peers, she said, appeared to get ahead without worrying about being liked. Women are frequently held to different standards: when too warm they are a pushover, too business-like and they are judged cold and remote.        有关魅力的问题也困扰着鲍康如本人;这个问题似乎令她困惑不已。她说她的许多男同事在获得成功的同时好像并不在意自己被不被别人喜欢。人们常常拿不同的标准来看待女性:太热情会被认为耳根子软,太公事公办又会让人觉得冷漠清高。
        Women are often told that if they want to get ahead, they need to stop contorting themselves into pleasing people. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, has observed that as women get more powerful they are indeed perceived as less likeable: “I see women holding themselves back because of this.”        女性常常被告知,如果想取得成功,就别再委屈自己去取悦别人。Facebook的首席运营官谢里尔•桑德伯格(Sheryl Sandberg)曾说,随着女性变得更强大,她们确实会被认为不那么讨人喜欢了:“我看到很多女性因此而退缩。”
        Yet it is not just women that worry about striking the right balance between being respected and liked. Only last week, I heard it said of a male co-worker that he is too nice, as if it was a barrier to career progression.        然而,为如何在被人尊重和被人喜欢之间取得良好平衡而烦恼的不仅仅是女性。就在前不久,我听人说起一位男同事,说他就是为人太好了,仿佛这种性格阻碍了他事业的发展。
        After all, nice guys, according to business lore, are meant to finish last. Tension is the handmaid to creativity, and so on.        毕竟,商业界有个说法,好人总要吃亏。锋芒毕露是创造力的使女,凡此种种。
        There is a mythology around the badly-behaved creative genius. A Quartz article, entitled “Silicon Valley has idolised Steve Jobs for decades — and it’s finally paying the price”, attacks Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs for creating a “manual for any bosses seeking a hall pass for their temper tantrums”. The article blamed this mythology for creating a stream of wannabe leaders who are utterly charmless. Most are devoid of genius, too.        围绕行迹恶劣的创造天才有一个神话。Quartz上一篇题为《几十年来硅谷将史蒂夫•乔布斯奉为偶像——并最终为此付出了代价》(Silicon Valley has idolised Steve Jobs for decades — and it’s finally paying the price)的文章,抨击了沃尔特•艾萨克森(Walter Isaacson)写的乔布斯传记,说这是一本献给那些为自己的坏脾气寻找通行证的老板们的手册。这篇文章谴责这一神话造就了一帮领袖人物的拙劣模仿者,这些人毫无魅力。其中大多数也缺乏天赋。
        No one wants to work for someone who prioritises friendship over competence. They can be prone to evading tough decisions or giving difficult but constructive feedback. This can lead to a fuzzy malaise.        没人愿为重视友情甚于才干、任人唯亲的家伙工作。这种人可能会逃避做出艰难的决定或不愿给出逆耳但有建设性的反馈。这会导致一种莫名的不安。
        A bit of strategic likeability nonetheless has its virtues. As Robert Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule, told me, there is lots of evidence from experiments that it is often more important than competence. Research by James Westphal of the University of Michigan and Ithai Stern of Northwestern University, found that when it comes to boards, being likeable gets you more seats. They summed up the effect on a hypothetical director named Fred: “All it takes is a little buttering up of Fred over the course of year — a couple of compliments above the norm, an extra personal favour, one less disagreement on strategy; add them up, and the chance of a board appointment where Fred is CEO or on the nominating committee goes up more than 70 per cent.”        然而,略施手腕博取他人好感确实有可取之处。《论浑人》(The No Asshole Rule)一书的作者罗伯特•萨顿(Robert Sutton)曾告诉我,大量实验证据显示,这往往比能力更重要。密歇根大学(University of Michigan)的詹姆斯•韦斯特法尔(James Westphal)与西北大学(Northwestern University)的伊塔•施特恩(Ithai Stern)经研究发现,在公司的董事会中,讨人喜欢会让你获得更多人的支持。他们总结了这对于一位名叫弗雷德的虚构董事的影响:“一年中弗雷德只要付出一点点巴结——说几句恭维话,再加点小恩小惠,在战略问题上少提点不同意见;把这些加起来,让董事会任命弗雷德做CEO或让提名委员会提名他的几率就会上升70%以上。”
        This week I went to a funeral of a family friend whose working life had been a rollercoaster — it was packed with friends from home and work.        不久前我参加了一位世交的葬礼,此人的职业生涯就像过山车一样大起大落——葬礼上满是他家庭和工作上的朋友。
        It is a cliché that on one’s death bed no one regrets going to too few meetings, as if that is all that working life amounts to. As I looked around the wake, it was a reminder of what counts more than money and getting ahead. Work may also be a place where great and lasting friendships are formed.        俗话说,没人在临终前会后悔参加的会议太少,仿佛开会就是工作生涯的全部意义所在。我环顾四周,眼前的情景提醒了我,比金钱和成功更重要的是什么。职场或许也能成就伟大而长久的友谊。
        emma.jacobs@ft.com        译者/偲言
                
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