Robert Sutton is a Stanford psychologist and author of “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace” and “The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal With People Who Treat You Like Dirt.”
In an interview with Vox’s Sean Illing, Sutton defines an asshole as someone who “leaves us feeling demeaned, de-energized, disrespected, and/or oppressed. In other words, someone who makes you feel like dirt.”
If you aren’t lucky, you might recognize a coworker or boss in that description.
Assuming booby-trapping their office is out of the question, what are you supposed to do about it?
“One of the simplest – but admittedly hardest – things you can do is simply learn not to give a sh–,” Sutton told Illing at Vox. He continued:
“Not giving a sh– takes the wind out of an asshole’s sails. When an asshole’s being nasty to you, ignore him. Think about when you’ll get home later that night and the fact that that asshole won’t be there and won’t matter. Think about how a year from now that asshole won’t be in your life, but he’ll still be the asshole he always was.”
Now, Sutton says there’s a distinction between your boss or coworker acting terribly and you feeling terrible when they aren’t actually being so bad. “Most of us human beings have pretty limited self-awareness,” he told Business Insider’s Aine Cain in a previous post. “To the extent you can slow down and do a sanity check, and ask, ‘Am I just crazy or are they treating me like dirt?’ you’ll be in better shape.”
He continued: “We’re quick to label other people as jerks and slow to label ourselves as a jerk or at least part of the problem. Human beings are just terrible at seeing our own problems.”