How not to be a jerk


Photo credit: Himself took photos of honey bees in my garden using his macro lenses.

A book review on “Asshole Survival Guide” caught my eye this morning. I sure could use this book having just survived two assholes this week. Alas, the book will only be out later this year. So, I searched out the author, Robert Sutton’s blog.

He is a Stanford University professor and has been writing on this topic as well as topics on creating better workplaces.

What caught my eye on his list of 12 things he believed in, that being “indifferent” was as important as being passionate.

His list is included here, but if you go to his blog post, he includes a link to explaining each of his beliefs.

12 THINGS I BELIEVE by Robert Sutton
1. Sometimes the best management is no management at all — first do no harm!

2. Indifference is as important as passion.

3. Saying smart things and giving smart answers are important. Learning to listen to others and to ask smart questions is more important.

4. You get what you expect from people. This is especially true when it comes to selfish behavior; unvarnished self-interest is a learned social norm, not an unwavering feature of human behavior.

5. Avoid pompous jerks whenever possible. They not only can make you feel bad about yourself, chances are that you will eventually start acting like them.

6. Anyone can learn to be creative, it just takes a lot of practice and little confidence

7. “Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.”

8. Sutton’s Law: “If you think that you have a new idea, you are wrong. Someone else probably already had it. This idea isn’t original either; I stole it from someone else”

9. “Am I a success or a failure?” is not a very useful question

10. The world would be a better place if people slept more and took more naps

11. Strive for simplicity and competence, but embrace the confusion and messiness along the way.

12. Jimmy Maloney is right, work is an overrated activity.

What’s your belief system?

I believe that speaking up is important, especially against injustice or wrong thinking. The greatest pursuit in life is for truth.

Indifference is as important as passion?

Suddenly, I’m confronted with the view by Robert Sutton and David Maister, that I too can be a jerk or asshole.

David Maister reflected on the times he behaved as a jerk.

1. I was over enthusiastic about a view that I got out of proportion.
2. I was tired
3. I felt I didn’t get the respect I deserved.

Suddenly I realised that I too have been a jerk many times over, simply because I was over passionate. I’ve blogged about the importance of speaking up, against injustice. But..

The people whom I consider as jerks were likewise very passionate about the topics they believed in, hence the desire to criticise others.

One jerk begets another jerk.

My self reflection moment this week courtesy of Easter :

First, do no evil. Google’s mission statement.

I’m going to check out Robert Sutton’s books on “Weird ideas that work”. If you’ve not read David Maister, his books on creativity are excellent.

How to survive assholes at work? (if you cannot quit)
Reframe the situation and see if they’re really perfectionist who are trying to help.
Avoid them.
Treat it as a game on how long you can avoid saying something. (Seriously, will they even listen to you? )

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