People who unselfishly take on difficult tasks are disliked by their coworkers because their do-good behavior breaks "the rules" and makes others "look bad," according to a new study. So that's why no one came to your office birthday party.
Why do your coworkers hate you? Because you smell? Because you talk about your cat too much? Because you beat the janitor up in the parking lot? No: It's because you're always the guy volunteering for hard work. A set of four studies seems to confirm that the goodies two-shoes who act unselfishly and willingly offer their services are also the people who coworkers least want to work with again:
The studies gave participants—introductory psychology students—pools of points that they could keep or give up for an immediate reward of meal service vouchers. Participants were also told that giving up points would improve the group's chance of receiving a monetary reward.
In reality, the participants were playing in fake groups of five. Most of the fictitious four would make seemingly fair swaps of one point for each voucher, but one of the four would often make lopsided exchanges—greedily giving up no points and taking a lot of vouchers, or unselfishly giving up a lot of points and taking few vouchers.
A majority of participants also said they would not want to work with the unselfish colleague again. They frequently said, "the person is making me look bad" or is breaking the rules. Occasionally, they would suspect the person had ulterior motives.
America: Where people are so suspicious of willing selflessness that they'd actually accuse hardworking volunteers of having ulterior motives.
The Takeaway: Never volunteer for anything, ever, or everyone will hate you.