Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Asshole Survival Guide by Robert I. Sutton

I came across this title when I read an interview with the author on Vox. Of course, the title is meant to grab attention, but when the interview piqued my interest, I clicked over to the library website and did a search. I requested a copy and it arrived yesterday.
This is a follow-up to a previous book he wrote called The No-Asshole Rule, but that was primarily about groups, he says, and this one covers more kinds of situations. Since that book, he has received a steady stream of correspondence in various forms, with people asking for advice on how to deal with assholes and /or sharing asshole stories. he says, 'I assumed that this asshole stuff would be a brief side trip and, within a year or so, I would return to my work on leadership, innovation, and organizational change. I was wrong. That little book touched a nerve. It took me a few years to accept that--no matter what else I write in my life or any other impact my other work has--I will always be known forst and foremost as "The Asshole Guy."' (p 3).

Sutton says that, 'The Asshole Survival Guide is devoted to strategies that help people escape, endure, battle, and bring down others who treat them like dirt.' (p 158) And that is exactly what the book provides, along with examples from the author's own life and from people who have shared their stories with him. He talks about some of them in the interview linked above.

I found the book to be quite interesting and even entertaining at times. The strategies he suggests and the research that underpins them were useful and the examples were sometimes amusing enough to make me laugh out loud. That said, there is a serious underlying issue here. This profusion of assholish behaviour is causing real harm to people. Were there always so many assholes? Has something changed to make assholes proliferate? As more people feel insecure in trying times, does the stress manifest this way? Whatever the reasons for the large number of assholes, this book provides practical advice for dealing with them.

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