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The Assh**le book that hits the nail on the head.

July 10, 2007

I am reading a book titled “The No Asshole Rule” by Robert I. Sutton. (I apologize for anyone that is offended at this particular juncture due to the title but I think most have heard the word before). The book is subtitled – Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.
Most of us have had to deal with these kinds of people over the years. At some point our radar suddenly comes on and we realize that this co-worker, boss, supervisor is an assh**le. The radar is working but what exactly is going on here.
Sutton produces two tests for spotting a person acting like an assh**le.
Test One. After talking to the alleged assh**le, does the “target” feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the person? In particular, does the target feel worse about themselves?
Test Two. Does the alleged assh**le aim his or her venom at people who are less powerful rather than at those people who are more powerful?
The tests work. But then he goes on to produce THE DIRTY DOZEN – Common everyday actions that assh**les use.

  1. Personal insults
  2. Invading one’s personal territory”
  3. Uninvited personal contact
  4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and nonverbal.
  5. “Sarcastic jokes” & “teasing” used as insult delivery systems
  6. Withering e-mail flames
  7. Status slaps intended to humiliate victims
  8. Public shaming or “status degradation” rituals
  9. Rude interruptions
  10. Two-faced attacks
  11. Dirty looks
  12. Treating people as if they are invisible

He goes on to say that we all suffer from these traits at times but the typical assh**le lives day to day with these traits. They are consistent.
The book is only 186 pages. His blog expands on the book. Required reading for anyone in an office with more than 2 people.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 11, 2007 2:57 pm

    Gene — I haven’t read that book, although it certainly sounds interesting. I’m not sure this qualifies as a “test”, but there’s a question I always ask myself when dealing with a potential A-hole at work: Why? That is, why is this person such a jerk?

    Personally, I often find that there are external reasons (drivers, influences, etc.) that contribute to the person’s behavior — his/her role, pressures, boss, etc.

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