Stanford professor explains how to deal with assholes


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/27/stanford-professor-explains-ho.html


#2

I just read this a half hour ago. Epic piece!


#3

I’m in academia, which means there are lots of assholes we can’t fire, but we can absolutely freeze them out. We don’t have to invite them to events or gatherings. We can shun them politely and smile at them as necessary, but other than that we just ignore them. That’s how we deal with assholes.

There are probably a bunch of Stanford employees wondering right now if he’s talking about them.


#4

Assholes, in my experience, don’t wonder about that. They take it as given.


#5

That’s why people smile politely at me and I never get invited to anywhere, they’re all assholes!


#6

Not giving a shit takes the wind out of an asshole’s sails. When an asshole’s being nasty to you, ignore him.

I have a PHD in this, learned it in the military, perfected in private sector.


#7

This is what I’ve been telling the world since Trump was elected.


#8

It’s not quite as simple when the asshole becomes your boss. Kinda have to pay attention to them at that point. And then they fire you anyway.

…you know, on further consideration, I should have just ignored his sorry ass from day one. Life lesson learned.


#9

Did you read the part of the article that covers that? It says surrender and leave for your own health ASAP.


#10

One of the simplest — but admittedly hardest — things you can do is simply learn not to give a shit. Not giving a shit takes the wind out of an asshole’s sails. When an asshole’s being nasty to you, ignore him

Good advice if you can manage it. My happy DGAF attitude is so developed at this point that an arsehole knows within seconds of meeting me that he might as well move on to easier and more satisfying targets for spreading his misery. I do work with and know several people known in my circles for being notorious and even proud arseholes, but they sure as heck learn to tone down their BS with me if they want whatever benefits they get from having my acquaintance with me.

A disclaimer is that in American society one either has to be very privileged (as Sutton notes) or have very little privilege (and thus not much to lose) to pull that off on a regular basis.* When most working- and middle-class Americans have an arsehole boss or teacher or in-law or family member they usually have to suck it up lest they lose their livelihoods or educations or friends or loved ones.

[* then, as the FPP photo reminds us, there’s always the option of being put into a permanent DGAF trance by a hypnotist who dies before pulling you out]


#11

Not being fired for being an asshole is pretty much why we have academic tenure.

https://alumni-gsb.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=75857

I am not criticizing tenure, which I consider essential. I am noting its history.


#12

It sounds as if there are no “politicians” in your organization who would judge all the angles and “deal” with the asshole, anyway. (Assholes have a way of getting to be bosses.)


#13

I saw that, but it’s a blissful simplification. In niche professions, surrendering and leaving are neither quick nor cheap. And by cheap, I mean is the bullshit more costly than 6 months of job searching without income plus 15k in assorted relocation costs plus another good chunk of cash in making up the loss you’ll take from selling your home? That would have to be some really brutal bullshit to justify that kind of cash outlay. Ain’t nothing easy in life.


#14

Yeah, becase the solution is blissfully simple. If you choose to stay, that sounds hard, and like a choice.

Choose your own adventure I say, let the assholes hire toadies, I’ll be over here conscientiously doing good work for kind people at reasonable costs.

I mean is the bullshit more costly than 6 months of job searching without income plus 15k in assorted relocation costs plus another good chunk of cash in making up the loss you’ll take from selling your home?

Well that depends, do you have health insurance that covers ulcers?

As for the assumed house sale, come off it man. If that is what you imagine avoiding assholes takes, I wish you luck, you must be in deep with one.

All it takes is closing one door per asshole.


#15

I have to say, it isn’t very difficult to not give a shit with an asshole. Its much more challenging to NOT give a shit without an asshole.

Just sayin/


#16

Big yep! Not to mention, when non-asshole people are exposed to two or more assholes interacting with each other (reinforcing each other’s asshole views) the atmosphere can be toxic.


#17

I think what @Thermironic was getting at is that some avocations have very few employment opportunities.

Personally I am a generalist, I can work anywhere, but I have seen this first hand. Do you know how many non-asshole dominated jobs there are in the world suitable for PhD. malacologists with college tuition debts to pay? If they have the doctorate, it’s because they truly love the work, and it’s hard to do while working as a fry cook.


#18

It helps to have an airgap from assholes you work for. As a longtime freelancer I can work for assholes because I don’t work WITH assholes. They hire me to do what they can’t and deliver it to them, and that changes the relationship. Big asshole once said he could do what I did if he had the time. He was wrong about that and a lot of things and crashed his business big time. If I didn’t work for assholes work would be quite thin.

Big question: is a curmudgeon necessarily an asshole?


#19

I learned to deal with assholes by not giving a shit … and meaning it.


#20

That’s how it works for me as a consultant, too. It only takes word that you’ve fired a client or two in the past for the arseholes to get their acts together if they value your work. Not everyone, and not every freelancer has that luxury, though.

I’d say no. In my experience, they’re often big softies underneath the surly exterior (assuming they’re not dealing with an arsehole).