, Professional Development

Book Review: The No A&#h*le Rule

Odds are at some point you’ve encountered a workplace bully, backstabber, tyrant, ego-maniac, or creep (maybe even all of the above!).  Sure, people can have a bad day now and again but what can you do if you have a consistently nasty colleague in your workplace?

I recently re-read Dr. Robert Sutton’s book The No A&#h*le Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t – a book that was used as a textbook in an MBA class and which offers practical strategies for dealing with workplace jerks.

The 213-page book, published in 2007, builds on Dr. Sutton’s 2004 Harvard Business Review article entitled “More Trouble Than They’re Worth”.  There are seven chapters, starting with two simple tests for spotting whether a person is acting like an A&#h*le:

  • Test One: After interacting with the alleged, do you feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled?
  • Test Two: Does the alleged target their behavior toward those who are less powerful rather than those who are more powerful?

Whether you’re dealing with CAVE dwellers (Colleagues Against Virtually Everything), tormentors, bullies, egomaniacs, or any other forms of bad behavior, this book is an easy read with plenty of examples and strategies for dealing with these types of humans by limiting the destruction they can cause, reforming those you are stuck with, expelling those who can’t (or won’t) change their ways.

While it’s easy to recognize bad behavior in others, Dr. Sutton reminds us to look inward as well with a little self-reflection, offering the advice – “Be slow to label others as a&#h*les but quick to label yourself” (p. 197).


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