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


The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert I. Sutton ©2007 & 2010 should help organizations of all kinds make their cultures less toxic and more productive. Click at the bottom of any page to get a copy so you can get started dealing with jerky behavior where you live and work.

Robert I. Sutton

  • Robert is Professor of Management Science at the Stanford Engineering School and researcher in the field of evidence-based management. He is a popular speaker and the author of two other best sellers Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be The Best…And Learn From The Worst and Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less with Huggy Rao.

1. Asshole Defined

  • With a title like this, it is essential to define what one means by the term asshole. Robert offers two tests we can use to spot this type of person. Test one: After talking to the person, do you feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled? Test two: Does this person aim venom at people who are less powerful rather than at people who are more powerful? He also gives us a list of actions that assholes use. They include personal insults, uninvited contact, threats and intimidation, sarcasm, two-faced attacks, dirty looks, and ignoring people. We are cautioned that there is a difference between a temporary asshole and a certified asshole, as nearly all of us act like one at times.
  • Just because you want to avoid hiring assholes, neither do you want to hire spineless wimps. What is needed is for teams to engage in conflict over ideas in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Robert even suggests taking classes in constructive confrontation. When he studied this topic, Robert found that just about everyone he talked to volunteered stories about abuse in their work environment. While every work environment has a significant problem with this, some are worse. It seems that nurses may lead the league when it comes to taking abuse from doctors, along with patients, their families, fellow nurses, and supervisors. Men and women are victimized at about the same rate and the lion’s share of abuse is within gender. What you want are people who are consistently warm toward people who are unknown or of lower status.
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