Many years ago, a young man was transferred to my department. During his first annual review, he asked me why his raises had been consistently lower than the company average. I said,
“Well, you’re kind of a jerk.”
And he was. If a colleague asked a question about our software, he’d sigh, look at his watch, and then bark, “Don’t you know that by now!” If a client inquired how the software worked, he’d huff, “Didn’t I explain that just last month?”
But he was smart. He dissected software bugs with scalpel-like sharpness. His technical keenness took the edge off his social rudeness. But just barely. His low annual raises reflected the mixed feelings his previous boss had toward him.
When I told him he was “kind of a jerk,” he seemed stunned and simply squeaked, “Really?” Then he read several books on human relationships, and he began to change. Something really seemed different.
Different enough, that he got a huge raise the following year. He then asked his former boss (a Christian) why the boss hadn’t been honest and direct. The boss admitted, “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” My new employee retorted,
“Damn it! Your cowardly Christian niceness cost me thousands of dollars. Thanks for nothing.” (Hey, he was a recovering jerk; I never said he was cured.)