Robert I. Sutton, “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.”

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From this website:

“In his new book, Sutton reveals the huge TCA (Total Cost of Assholes) in today’s corporations. He shows how to spot an asshole (hint: they are addicted to rude interruptions and subtle putdowns, and enjoy using “sarcastic jokes” and “teasing” as “insult delivery systems”), and provides a “self-test” to determine whether you deserve to be branded as a “certified asshole.” And he offers tips that you can use to keep your “inner jerk” from rearing its ugly head. Sutton then uses in-depth research and analysis to show how managers can eliminate mean-spirited and unproductive behavior (while positively channeling some of the virtues of assholes) to generate an asshole free–and newly productive–workplace.”

NB: Sutton has a blog!

Tenured Radical has a lengthy, detailed review of the book here, below is an excerpt:

What is great about The No Asshole Rule is that Sutton’s examples help identify the asshole behavior that is particular to one’s own workplace, how to identify it in oneself, and how to resist it. He also demonstrates the damage caused by assholes, several of which seem particularly relevant to academic institutions, in my experience. One is that asshole behavior is contagious: if effective interventions are not made, people who are not certified assholes become more prone to temporary asshole behaviors as they try to resist domination and seizures of power.

Potentially, entire departments and faculties can be taken over, by assholes and by people who are forced into asshole management. Another crucial point — and of course this resonated to my experience during the Unfortunate Events — is that people who must resist being constantly demeaned and emotionally battered pay a terrific price in their energy and creativity, and do less and less well professionally, are less able to write, and often less able to function as teachers, scholars and colleagues on a day to day basis. Thus, what is often touted as a hierarchy of merit can also be a hierarchy of – can we say oppression? – where decent people are subject to the rule of the ruthless, and as a result their talents become hidden or submerged, and their capacity to function as university citizens who can and should be rewarded is severely eroded.

Once again, thanks to Historiann. Any day now I’m going to have to start sending her a cut of the copious royalties generated by this blog. Or so her lawyers keep suggesting. Incidentally, the “No Asshole Rule” is a good one to implement when you are pondering who to invite to a conference you are hosting. Just ask your support staff.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Robert I. Sutton, “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.”

  1. Eric says:

    I’m going to recommend that next year we require all faculty candidates to take Sutton’s “A.R.S.E.” test. I’m pleased to report that I did pretty well, scoring on 2 points which put me safely within the “non-asshole” range. Of course, some people might beg to differ.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    Everyone has their moments, that’s part of being human. I think it’s important to get a clear picture of what you can control, v. what you can’t, and to try hard not to get angry about the things you can’t control. Haven’t perfected this yet myself, but doing better than I used to, anyway.

    Hey, I was just in Charlotte NC teaching a CLE for the NC Bar. We have to hang out one of these days.

  3. Eric says:

    Well, next time you make it to Upper Carolina, let me know!