The No Asshole Rule

AssholeI love flying. If only because it let’s me catch up on all the reading I’ve been meaning to do.

As per Amy’s “Assholes 101” post, I’ve been stuck trying to finish The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Bob Sutton.

Last time I was talking to her about it, I was a bit down on the book. I was frustrated. But I was determined to get through it. Because I had heard such good things about it. Now, I’m glad I did.

But see, here’s the thing. Here’s why I was frustrated: there are different reading styles for the book.

If you’re considering reading The No Asshole Rule (and I recommend that you do), please take one of the two following paths:

  1. If you have never encountered an asshole in your life and live in a Pollyanna-like existence, fueled by child-like curiosity, please start on page 1.
  2. If you’re like 99.9999…% of the population and have had to deal with assholes before–maybe like two minutes ago–then I would suggest you read the book Star Wars style. That is, start in the middle, at around Chapter 5. Read through to the end, find out Darth Vader does turn out to be good, and then start over at the beginning.

Trust me, you’ll be much happier. This will reduce the number of times you yell out, “I know what an asshole is! How do I deal with the assholes, you asshole?!!?” (UPDATE: And lookie here, Bob goes even further to help us answer that very question, with his “Tips for Victims of Workplace Assholes.”)

I especially suggest taking path #2 if you plan on reading the book in a public place.

The main points I remember?

  • Divorce yourself from the situation or create coping mechanisms that place you in control of the situation
  • Look for small wins instead of big wins
  • Limit your exposure
  • “A few demeaning creeps can overwhelm the warm feelings generated by hoards of civilized people.”

(As it turns out, this review falls well in line with my current diatribe on perspective and control. Who knew?)

Have you read the book? I’d love to hear your take.

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Founder and editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Assholes, Career, Control, Corporate Culture, Fear, Perspective, Review, Workplace, Wrong. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The No Asshole Rule

  1. Glad to know the book turned out to be worthwhile. Anytime there can be data proving that an asshole-free environment is more productive, more profitable and more successful, it gives individuals and organizations the evidence to deal more severely with the assholes in their midst (regardless if the asshole is successful in the job, e.g. lands lots of sales deals, develops great software, etc).

    It would be cool if it turned out that being an asshole, even a very successful one, is as unacceptable in the workplace as smoking is today in public places. It took lots of data and time, but everybody now knows the harms of smoking for the individual and everyone around them, and behavior has changed as a result.

  2. Rick Turoczy says:

    On a serious note, I really like that idea. A lot.

    On a less serious note, maybe we could get the Surgeon General to weigh in on the dangers of asshole exposure? Er… Exposure to assholes.

    You know what I mean.

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