Have you heard of the The No Asshole Rule? There is a business book by the name The No Asshole Rule and Anthony Bourdain the American celebrity chef and author made The No Asshole Rule famous. In this post, I’m going to tell you about The No Asshole Rule and how you can use it in your life.
Let’s be honest, we have all been assholes in some situations.
As humans, we have our flaws but the most important thing is to realize when you were an asshole and correct the behavior.
I’m sure even Mr. Anthony Bourdain would have been an asshole to some people who worked for him, even if he thought otherwise.
It is very difficult to please everyone in the world but what we can do is avoid being an asshole all the time and to everyone we meet in our life.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family and my dad was an asshole most of the time.
When I was a teenager, we would often get into arguments and he would ask me to leave the house and never return.
This was when I was 13 or 15 and I would encounter this behavior for petty reasons such as going to play with my friends or sleeping during the day.
Over the years, I started to despise him and after I got my first job, I left home for good and only visited when and if I felt like it.
As a policy, I try to avoid assholes in my life and so that I can live in peace.
Now, my father is old and he behaves very politely with me and every week he asks me to come home but in my memory, I can only think of him as the asshole who used to pick on me, beat me and torture me in everyway possible.
In my mind, I’m trying to move on from the things I encountered in childhood, but it is hard.
I’m sure even if he knew The No Asshole Rule back then, he would still have been an asshole.
As I grew up and started working, I started encountering different kinds of assholes–specially at work.
In my last company, the CTO was a certified asshole who sent me an email stating that I was no good and I should not be heading a team let alone working for a company with 300 employees.
4 months later, this guy was forced out in a layoff and I was still there to witness it but I didn’t get any happiness from it.
In fact, I was feeling sorry for him and the next company he goes to.
Most likely, this guy doesn’t even know he is an asshole and he will take the same road in the next company too.
So what is the The No Asshole Rule?
The No Asshole Rule (full title of the book: The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t) is a book written by Stanford professor Robert I. Sutton.
The book started as an essay for Harvard Business Review and it was reported that he received over 1000s of emails and testimonies on the essay and this prompted him to write the book.
The No Asshole Rule Book won the Quill Award for best business book in 2007 and sold over 115,000 copies.
You can buy the The No Asshole Rule Book on Amazon here
The theme of the No Asshole Rule Book is about bullying behavior at the workplace which dents productivity and morale.
While the word “Asshole” might be a little strong, professor Robert I. Sutton says that there is no other word that conveys the meaning more accurately than “asshole”.
In the book, professor Robert I. Sutton specifies two tests to recognize an asshole.
After encountering the person, do people feel oppressed, humiliated or otherwise worse about themselves?
Does the person target people who are less powerful than him/her?
Their unpleasant behaviours were catalogued by Sutton as The Dirty Dozen:
- Violation of personal space
- Unsolicited touching
In the book, professor Sutton says that there are two types of Assholes, temporary assholes and certified assholes.
Temporary assholes give people a hard time only momentarily but certified assholes behave this way all day every day.
I have worked with temporary and permanent assholes in my career and if you encounter a permanent asshole at work–the best thing to do is just try to avoid engaging with the person.
Anthony Bourdain No Asshole Rule
In an interview, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain said, “It is truly a privilege to live by what I call the “no asshole” rule. I don’t do business with assholes. I don’t care how much money they are offering me, or what project. Life is too short. Quality of life is important. I’m fortunate to collaborate with a lot of people who I respect and like, and I’d like to keep it that way.”
While this is good for a celebrity chef, as normal human beings who have to work for other people, we will have to deal with assholes.
Working with Assholes
When you work in a large company, it is only natural that you will have to work with many people you do not like.
Some of them could be assholes.
Working with assholes can be mentally taxing, irritating and can cause you to lose your peace.
Working with assholes will require tact, thoughtfulness and more importantly patience.
Dealing with Assholes at Work
Some of the little tricks I use when working with Assholes are:
- Staying calm and communicating over email so that you have documentation
- Giving it back when required
- Showing that you know what you are talking about
- Having good relationship with other folks in the same team
- If the asshole is your direct manager, start looking for better opportunities. It is just not worth working for an asshole.
When you are working with assholes you have to understand that it is the same as wrestling with a pig in the mud, both are getting dirty but the pig is actually enjoying it.
In every company, you would most likely find assholes so changing your job all the time might not be a solution.
I have run many online businesses in the past, and I have dealt with many asshole customers.
Once I ran an ad for digital marketing services, someone filled a lead form and I gave them a call.
The conversation went something like this:
Other Side: Yes, who is this?
Me: Hey, you had recently filled out a lead form on our website regarding digital marketing services, may I know how we can help you?
Other Side: So, what is it that you can do?
Me: We specialize in performance marketing, SEO, Content Marketing and help you acquire new customers through digital marketing.
Other Side: Well what the hell do you know about digital? I have been working with computers for 20 years and I know very well what digital marketing is.
Me: Okay Sir, so do you need our services for digital marketing?
Other Side: I know more about digital marketing than you, so how can you help?
Me: Okay Sir, have a good day!
Imagine if I had taken this guy as a client!
This was a potential asshole customer that I dodged.
Then there was another asshole customer that refused to pay me for 4 months and expected me to attend all his meetings, send him reports and guide his team.
After signing an agreement with an asshole customer, he just was not paying when I sent the invoice.
When I call him, he just says I am busy/Call me after a week/I’m not in town.
Then, he is asking why my sales numbers are not improving.
I can only think of one word for such customers, Asshole customers.
When you identify that one of your customers is an asshole the best thing you can do is have a backup plan to get the money and just stop working on the account.
I did not get the money, but I am glad I stopped working for him at least after 4 months. I wrote more about this on my other website, you can read it if you are interested.
The customer is always an Asshole
There is a movie called Mallrats which is set in the theme of a mall.
There are many storylines in the movie involving friends, lovers, enemies and there is an interesting conversation that goes something like this.
Haven’t you ever heard the phrase “The customer is always right?”
Let me tell you something. Let me give you a little secret, okay.
The customer is always an asshole!
I once woked in an Series C funded elearning company which providing certification training for working professionals.
There were classroom training and during the break, our students were given 2 biscuits and very small cup of very bad tea.
I saw a customer asking for an extra biscuit and the lady organizing the whole thing told him very blunt, “No that’s all you get.”
The next day when I met my CEO I asked him, why don’t we treat our customers a little better, I’m sure it will result in word of mouth and we will make more sales.
He responded, Indian customers are always assholes! They do not deserve that 2 biscuits also, but out of my generosity, I’m giving them those.
Mind you, he too was Indian!
Don’t Be An Asshole
There are two more books that go by the name of Don’t Be An Asshole.
Just Don’t Be an Asshole: A Surprisingly Necessary Guide to Being a Good Guy
Don’t Be an Asshole!: Creating a Better World Through Self Awareness, Common Sense and Decency
Both books explore similar lines and tells you how to avoid Asshole kind of behavior at workplace or with other people.
No Asshole Rule My Thoughts
Having grown up in a dysfunctional family and struggling for many years, I do have some asshole kind of characteristics.
I also try very hard to stay away from assholes at work and I’m trying to improve myself.
Over the years, I’ve become much calmer, and I try not to get too angry these days.
If you also have grew up in an unhealthy environment, you could have asshole type characteristics.
Try to take a step back, understand your behavior and lastly, stay away from assholes even if they can be of use in the short term because they will definitely cause you harm in the long term.
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