I had a preliminary lunch interview once with a potential candidate. He was nice enough to me but rude to the wait staff, never said please or thank you, and would just hold his glass up without looking when he wanted a refill. When the waitress made an honest mistake he grudgingly accepted a replacement drink and then told me about how you “can’t get good service anywhere in this town.”
Needless to say I didn’t hire him.
He was nice enough to me but rude to the wait staff
He was nice enough to me but rude to the wait staff
I’ve been telling young women to watch for this for years. Get this supposedly dream guy to take them somewhere involving servants or some perceived lower class. Preferably a busy time where mistakes might happen. Watch how they treat them. Although some habitually fake this, lots of assholes out themselves when they have targets who can’t easily defend themselves. One might also look at it as a position of power they just have to abuse for fun.
I don’t know how often it works for most I tell. I have heard some good things. I see it myself plenty, though. Waiters, receptionists, store clerks, customer support… anything like that.
The CTO who hired me at my last job told me he would always break his half hour interview up into a twenty minute interview with him that was always preceded by a ten minute interview with his secretary: “oh, sorry, Mr. Xxx is running late, can I get you a water or show you the restrooms?”
He suggested that this lead to at least one no hire and that made the exercise infinitely valuable.
There are seriously people like this? I thought this only happened in movies.
Remember kuro5hin? That guy would’ve been one of the polite ones on there.
Really? My recollection of that site wasn’t as bad as yours seems to be…
In a recent post-interview dinner I had with some of my future teammates and VPs, they shared similar stories of rejected candidates. It’s anecdotal without a proper study, but I guess this happens quite a bit.
I like the write-up but I think it’s missing an important category: passive-aggressive. It’s harder to see than the overt forms of aggression listed but it details morale the same way.
Passive-aggressive communicators drain energy but are not stereotypically assholes.
I knew you would say that.
The whole article seems to focus on what to do as a business owner. The interesting question is what to do when you have to deal with an asshole, without having any authority. Or worse, when the asshole seems to be favoured by those who do (since assholes appear to outperform the non-assholes).
Just report them to and encourage others to. I would always get side channel requests from people because the sysadmin was an insufferable asshole and I had equal access to the same stuff. I’d tell them the same thing I did. Bug management and hr until they do something about it. Worst case scenario you quit.
That’s a very good point about having a similar job with the asshole. All the little favors and questions get asked of you since nobody wants to deal with the asshole, contributing towards the asshole’s perceived performance in the measured metrics.
not entirely convinced about the smart or dumb part, but reading the article definitely made me realise that I’m guilty of half the things listed. I’m most likely an asshole. what should one do to de-assholize himself, given that the managers or coworkers are not constantly correcting it?
Personally I am the most asshole when I’m angry or unwell. if I can tell that’s happening, I try to:
prefer higher latency methods of communications like email over instant ones like IRC.
Reading my email as I write it makes me realize it’s a bad idea to say certain things.
ignore early, ignore often. if I don’t need to respond to something upsetting, I delete it from my inbox after reading it. otherwise I’d have the temptation to say something shitty whenever I open my inbox.
Also, being unwell has a lot to do with it - I just don’t have resources left to put up with people. Taking care of yourself helps.
(Some of this advice may not apply to you. I painted a broad stroke.)
I’d say, look at people, listen to them, and learn to change your mind.
Listening is hard, but it is simple: Don’t interrupt people, and let yourself be interrupted. You will speak less. Very frustrating at first. But it also makes sure whoever you’re talking to can say their piece, and you’ll be able to think more about what you say. Your fewer words should have a greater impact.
Look at how people react around you. Whether they avert your gaze or sustain it. Whether they smile or frown, and whether the reaction is genuine, in jest, or mocking. If the reaction is negative, it may be because you just delivered bad news. If you were not, maybe you did it wrong? Maybe you started by “that should be obvious”, or “don’t you know that by now?” or had an aggressive tone or body language? Self awareness is not easy, but it can be easier if you use the others as a mirror.
Admitting you’re wrong feels bad. But it also means you just learn something. Which is good. Recognise that feeling, and remember that it is a good thing. It’s the feeling of growth.
When someone say you made a mistake, they may be right, even if you’re more competent. It happened to me. Repeatedly. Admitting your mistake may feel bad for you, but it will feel very good for them: they will feel good about being right, good about having contributed, and good about you for being wise enough to see you were wrong. And next time you disagree with them, your opinion will have more weight.
One habit at a time. Don’t change everything right away, that’s overwhelming. A bit like quitting smoking and drinking and exercising and work more… Start with whatever you think has the highest priority, or is the most actionable. For me that would be the listening/interruption thing. Once you made your first thing a habit, you can try the next one.
The best way to try and fix your own habits that may be hurting others is to just pay attention to those habits the best you can. Role reverse in situations where you may feel you want to express contempt and figure out either why you’re feeling that contempt or a better way to express what you want to say. Fixing bad habits of any kind is just a thing you need to keep on top of yourself with. Sometimes keeping a sort of journal of the things one feels they could do better helps people, sometimes it doesn’t. But what’s important is that you just pay attention best you can.
I have simplified my personal grid to detect Smart Assholes.
In my exprience they all share this behaviour trait:
They are unable to say “I don’t know”, or “I am wrong”.
Seldom, when they finally say “I don’t know”, they are trying to hide information indeed.
My 2 cents.
I’ll add sincere apologies to that. Some smart folks with poor social skills will screw up, have a hard time doing that in the moment, and come back to make amends realizing it. Then, they’ll try to avoid that screw up in the future. So, what you said plus not righting the wrongs a little later.
A+ for creative writing. Otherwise, article is feel-good wishful thinking. Power is power. Someone with Michael-Jackson-level stats will be allowed–99.9% of the time–to get away with Michael-Jackson-level things. Look at how the whole Andy Rubin situation played out. Same thing for sports, politics, etc.
“No assholes” manifestos–especially ones coming from corporateland–are more CYA than true belief.
You can have them at your company, I won’t have them at mine. Nearly ALWAYS people who are believed to be Michael Jackson level end up actually being Michael Scott level. Keeping a asshole around because they’re a rockstar is in my experience often in practice keeping an asshole around who is slightly below average in ability. Always fire them, never hire them. If they’re so special they can start their own business.
OC wasn’t an expression of personal values.
It was a lesson in physics.
Of course. :) I just was thinking about how people get excited about Michael Jackson’s that are really Michael Scott :P. I didn’t realize it was just an observation, apologies.
I’ve worked somewhere that looked like it had a “no asshole” policy. At least, they ostensibly care about employees being nice to each other. But I don’t think they were that good at conflict resolution. In two instances, they fired the one who went most visibly out of line (each lashed out in their own way), and went much lighter on the other party.
Someone caring to look like they don’t want toxic behaviour is more likely to squash the most visible negativity, instead of tracking down the root of the problem.
As much as I doubt the effectiveness of the article’s solutions, I still feel they’re onto something regarding the problem.
I’ve seen that behaviour too, and ascribe it to the fallacy “we don’t hire assholes, therefore anything our employees do is not asshole behaviour”.
Unpopular opinion ahead: I don’t think this corporate point of view onto the issue solves the actual problem, it only gets it out of the hair of corporate and makes it someone else’s instead.
Let’s consider the assumption that an “asshole” can be “fixed”, i.e. will adjust their behavior after being reprimanded with sufficent frequency. As far as I can tell, you haven’t changed their nature, just the symptom. There must be an underlying reason why the person is like this: Be it stress, disliking their job (but feeling trapped into it with no viable alternatives) or possibly inherent malice. If and only if the cause was stress induced by other people at the workplace, this alleviates the cause as well as the symptoms. Otherwise, you’ve merely shifted the problem on someone else, such as their family or random strangers. Possibly, lacking an outlet for their “assholery”, this might even intensify the outlash at others outside a workplace. I’m not sure what would actually fix this; possibly some trips to the psychiatrist and subsequent therapdy and medication?
Let’s consider the assumption that an “asshole” cannot be “fixed”. In that case, it is a fixed personality trait, likely rooting in inherent malice. This article makes the point that assholes should not be permitted to work in a workplace. At the same time, the assumption is that they’re irredeemable. Thus, they cannot work in anything but one-person self-employment scenarios, which is an economically unrealistic scenario for many people. Therefore, these people cannot be allowed to work at all according to this line to thinking. What does a society do with people that cannot work? Banishing them out of the country or outright killing them is apparently out of the question for the morals of society right now, so they’d have to join welfare. In a capitalist state, the question turns into whether, on a macroeconomic scale, putting “assholes” on welfare comes cheaper than keeping them in the workforce.
In either case, you have an unsolved problem.
“Therefore, these people cannot be allowed to work at all according to this line to thinking. “
A tiny percentage of environments that read and apply writing like this won’t hire them. Most environments hire assholes. So, these people will be allowed to work in most environments. Might even thrive in them. They’ll simply go to the asshole-tolerating companies.
you’ve merely shifted the problem on someone else, such as their family or random strangers.
you’ve merely shifted the problem on someone else, such as their family or random strangers.
They are already assholes to other people in their lives.
It is interesting to consider what you propose from a “corporate social responsibility” perspective: a company might then help society in general by helping resolve “assholistic” behaviour, and offering an environment where the person can improve and eventually resolve or reduce the problematic behaviour. This leads to interesting moral and ethical questions, and ultimately to the role of a company and its indirect social impact.
I can just feel the glee with which Mr Hilton wrote this. I’m glad he was able to pass it ;)
This article lists a bunch of valid ways on detecting “assholes”, such as watching out for:
These are all perfectly good ways for weeding out abusive people from a community. But the issue is that the resilient assholes simply aren’t the ones who ever get caught acting like this.
In private, resilient assholes spread false rumors about others and their work, but stand up for the work of their friends on their Twitter feeds. Between themselves, they intentionally ignore contributions from people they feel slighted or intimidated by. In public, however, they write Medium posts on how important it is to get more newcomers into open source and blame everyone around them for sexism, racism, discrimination etc.
In private, they only accept technical arguments from the people they want to impress, and ignore technical arguments from people they want to shut out, especially when that doesn’t agree with their perspective. In public, they shame others for not focusing their speech or conduct on technical substance and for not being inclusive.
In private, they maintain and encourage myths about those they have a vendetta against (for usually petty or delusional reasons) and promulgate them through their circle of influence, they gossip about how someone was a “diversity hire”. In public, they proclaim loudly on Twitter about how they’re leading a donation drive to a “Minorities in Tech” group.
Figuring out the obvious assholes has been a solved problem for years, if not decades. Any competent leader knows how to do that. But what about the resilient assholes, the ones resolutely after political capital and influence at all costs? What’s being done to deal with those people? From my perspective, they just thrive more year by year.
All these articles and opinions boil down to: I don’t want to deal with people who aren’t like me. How can I make that out group sound bad enough that I can exclude them from every part of my life while looking moral?
The problem is not one anyone wants to talk about because it isn’t about people, it’s about groups. An asshole in a group where that behavior is accepted will work a lot better than a non-asshole.
In the far off year of 2119 with their enlightened attitude on such things as anal extension rings and trans-species polymonogaphy a pleb like us from 2019 will seem as out of place as Jim Bob from Appalachia who still has trouble with mixed race couples. But if we brought back one of those higher beings to our time I doubt they would create a more productive team since most of their time will be spent explaining to us why non-ringed anuses are not only unhygienic but immoral.