This Stanford Professor Has Tips For Avoiding A-Holes

Almost as important to a successful day as eating breakfast.

Tommy Gimlerby Tommy Gimler
Photo: Universal Pictures

Start by staying out of Jersey?

We’re kidding, but Stanford University psychology professor Robert Sutton is not when it comes to writing about the best ways to avoid assholes in your everyday life. According to Vox, Sutton recently authored “The Asshole Survival Guide,” a book that acts as a “blueprint for managing assholes at the interpersonal level.”

This Stanford Professor Has Tips For Avoiding A-Holes

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Just how did a Stanford professor become an expert in dealing with assholes? Here’s what Sutton had to say.

“I’ve done a lot of research on the expression of emotion in organizational life, including how to deal with assholes. I wasn’t using that word at the time, but that’s basically what I was doing. I even did some ethnographic work as a telephone bill collector, where I was dealing with assholes all day long. I was also part of an academic department that had a no-asshole rule — seriously. And we actually enforced it.”

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Sutton’s definition of an asshole is “someone who leaves us feeling demeaned, de-energized, disrespected, and/or oppressed. In other words, someone who makes you feel like dirt.” Once you’ve identified those assholes, Sutton says you then have to do “two things in terms of strategy.”

“To begin with, you’ve got to build your case. You’ve also got to build a coalition. One of my mottos is that you have to know your assholes. We already talked about temporary versus certified assholes, but another distinction that’s really important is that some people, and you mentioned this at the outset, some people are clueless assholes and don’t realize they’re jerks, but maybe they mean well.

In that situation, you can have backstage conversations, gently informing them that they’ve crossed a line. This is simple persuasive work. But if it’s somebody who is one of those Machiavellian assholes who is treating you like shit because they believe that’s how to get ahead, in that case you’ve got to get the hell out of there if you can.”

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He also added that one of the “simplest — but admittedly hardest — things” you can do to combat assholes is “simply learn not to give a shit.”

“Not giving a shit takes the wind out of an asshole’s sails,” Sutton said.

Of course, none of that applies if you’re the asshole in the equation.

It sounds like “The Asshole Survival Guide” is one hell of a read. I know I for one hope that he follows it up with a way to deal with dickheads.

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Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Amazon

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