The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace - Deepstash

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The Reason for workplace toxicity.

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace

by Robert I. Sutton

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The Trait of Assholeness: The sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behavior, excluding physical contact.

  • Test One: After talking to the alleged asshole, does the “target” feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the pers...

  • Personal insults
  • invading one’s “personal territory”
  • uninvited physical contact
  • threats and intimidation, both verbal and nonverbal
  • “Sarcastic jokes” and “teasing” used as insult delivery systems
  • withering e-mail flames
  • status slaps inte...

Every organization needs the no asshole rule because mean-spirited people do massive damage to victims, bystanders who suffer the ripple effects, organizational performance, and themselves.

Nasty interactions have a far bigger impact on our moods than positive interactions—five times the pu...

  • Make it public by what you say and especially what you do.
  • Weave the rule into hiring and firing policies.
  • Apply the rule to customers and clients. (69)
  • Status and power differences: roots of many evils. When the social distance between higher- and lower-status mammal...

When we see someone break a known rule—like “don’t litter”—and no one else seems to be breaking it, that single “deviant act” sticks out, which makes the rule more vivid and powerful in our minds. But when we see a person break a rule and everyone else seems to be breaking it, we are even more li...

Enforce the rule by linking big policies to small decencies. Having all the right business philosophies and management practices to support the no asshole rule is meaningless unless you treat the person right in front of you, right now, in the right way

If you can’t or won’t follow the rule, it is better to say nothing at all—avoiding a false claim is the lesser of two evils.

You don’t want to be known as a hypocrite and the leader of an organization that is filled with assholes.

Keep your resident jerks out of the hiring process, or if you can’t, involve as many “civilized” people in interviews and decisions to offset this predilection of people to hire “jerks like me.”

Organizations usually wait too long to get rid of certified and incorrigible assholes, and once they do, the reaction is usually, “Why did we wait so long to do that?”

Even if people do other things extraordinary well but persistently demean others, they ought to be treated as incompetent.

Beware that given people—even seemingly nice and sensitive people—even a little power can turn them into big jerks.

Accept that your organization does have and should have a pecking order, but do everything you can to downplay and reduce unnecessary status differences among members. The re...

Effective asshole management means focusing on and changing the little things that you and your people do—and big changes will follow. Reflect on what you do, watch how others respond to you and to one another, and work on “tweaking” what happens as you are interacting with the person in fron...

Develop a culture where people know when to argue and when to stop fighting and, instead, gather more evidence, listen to other people, or stop whining and implement a decision (even if they still disagree with it).

When the time is ripe to battle over ideas, follow Karl Weick’s advic...

Because people follow rules and norms better when there are rare occasional examples of bad behavior, no asshole rules might be most closely followed in organizations that permit one or two token jerks to hang around.

These “reverse role models” remind everyone else of the wrong ...

Effective asshole management happens when there is a virtuous, self-reinforcing cycle between the “big” things that organizations do and the little things that happen when people talk to one another and work together.

  • Being around people who look angry makes you feel angry.
  • Don’t join the jerks.
  • Seeing coworkers as rivals and enemies is a dangerous game. 
  • Organizational life is nearly always a blend of cooperation and competition, and organizations that forbid extreme internal comp...

  • You feel surrounded by incompetent idiots—and you can’t help letting them know the truth every now and then.
  • You were a nice person until you started working with the current bunch of creeps.
  • You don’t trust the people around you, and they don’t trust you.
  • You see you...

  • You sometimes just can’t contain your contempt toward the losers and jerks at your workplace.
  • You find it useful to glare at, insult, and even occasionally holler at some of the idiots at your workplace.
  • You take credit for the accomplishments of your team—why not? They would...

  • You notice that people seem to avoid eye contact when they talk to you—and they often become very nervous.
  • You have the feeling that people are always very careful about what they say around you.
  • People keep responding to your e-mail with hostile reactions, which often escala...

  • Change how you see things
  • Hope for the best; expect the worst
  • Develop indifference and emotional detachment
  • Look for small wins
  • Limit your exposure
  • Build pockets of safety, support, and sanity
  • Fight and win the right small battles

It is naïve to assume that assholes always do more harm than good. So this chapter is devoted to the upside of assholes. Beware, however, that these ideas are volatile and dangerous: they provide the ammunition that deluded and destructive jerks can use to justify, and even glorify, their penchan...

  • A few demeaning creeps can overwhelm the warm feelings generated by hoards of civilized people.
  • Talking about the rule is nice, but following up on it is what really matters.
  • The rule lives—or dies—in the little moments
  • Enforcing the no asshole rule isn’t just managem...

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