Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sutton's Advice: Be Slow to Brand People as Assholes

This post also uses the word "asshole" multiple times. If that offends you, you might want to read about scary baby toys instead.

One of Bob Sutton's talents in The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn't is that he doesn't simply rail against all assholes all the time. He admits he can be one occasionally, and that we should be careful how we use the label:

First, resist the temptation to apply the label to anyone who annoys you or has a bad moment. If you apply the label to everyone, it means nothing.

Second, be slow to brand people as certified assholes just because they act like temporary assholes now and then or have a gruff exterior....

Third, the best way to overcome a negative stereotype of someone---unfounded beliefs that a person or all people in some category are evil, lazy, stupid, or whatever---is to work on a task with that person that entails mutual and successful cooperation toward some goal.

Of course, there are some people who fail all these tests; the more we know about them, the more evidence we get that they are certified assholes.