• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Assholes - recognizing them and dealing with them

Rhea

Cyborg with a Tiara
Staff member
Joined
Feb 1, 2001
Messages
13,226
Location
Recluse
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
Recently the issue of assholes came up and whether one had a duty to not be an asshole and whether it was a moral issue. This got me goggling somewhat randomly about assholes - and there are a lot of nooks and crannies on the topic.

What makes an asshole?
Is it a personal issue or a social issue (or something else?)
Do you benefit from responding?
Can you fix the issue in yourself or others?

I ran across a couple of interesting articles that I’ll share here and open for discussion. What are your thoughts?

A Stanford psychologist on the art of avoiding assholes

Sean Illing​

Before we can talk about surviving assholes, we need a proper definition of assholery. Can you give me one?

Robert Sutton​

There are a lot of academic definitions, but here’s how I define it: An asshole is someone who leaves us feeling demeaned, de-energized, disrespected, and/or oppressed. In other words, someone who makes you feel like dirt.

Sean Illing​

So an asshole is someone who doesn’t care about other people?

Robert Sutton​

I would make a distinction between temporary and certified assholes, because all of us under the wrong conditions can be temporary assholes. I'm talking about somebody who is consistently this way, who consistently treats other people this way. I think it’s more complicated than simply saying an asshole is someone who doesn’t care about other people. In fact, some of them really do care — they want to make you feel hurt and upset, they take pleasure in it.

ASSHOLE TYPES

Prvides some descriptions of types of behaviors and how it impact others


Do You Have to Be a Jerk to Be Successful?

A little bit of ego is still important though, right?​

Allow me to address that fear right now: One does not need to be an egotistical asshole to be successful. In fact, this is one of the most misleading and destructive myths in all of Western culture, right next to the idea that one must be a drug addict to be a successful musician or starving to produce great art.
 

Bronzeage

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 27, 2011
Messages
7,493
Location
Deep South
Basic Beliefs
Pragmatic
Defining a personality type by another person's impressions of them does not seem like something suitable for the DSM.

I've encountered plenty of asshole types in my time and I've observed a combination of anger, fear, and hostility. All of it fits into the basic narcissist frame. None of them had the ability to make me feel like dirt.
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Messages
7,225
Location
Searching for reality along the long and winding r
Basic Beliefs
Everything we know is wrong (to some degree)
People have a wide range of definitions of assholery. Some see an asshole as someone who holds and strongly defends opinions or ideas directly contradictory to their own... This is common among people with strong political positions who see anyone in an opposing political party as assholes. (this would make anyone with strong political views an asshole in the view of someone else with strong political views that disagreed with them.)

My personal definition of an asshole is someone who's only concern is their own desires and fuck anyone who either gets in the way or doesn't help them achieve them.
 

Rhea

Cyborg with a Tiara
Staff member
Joined
Feb 1, 2001
Messages
13,226
Location
Recluse
Basic Beliefs
Humanist
My definition tends to lean only toward the more aggressive manifestations. If someone is simply selfish, it doesn’t vibe asshole to me. To me it only crosses that border when they start to (try to) force others to acknowlege, or even submit to, their selfishness. Or when they (try to) dominate a conversation and shut down other contributions.
 

lpetrich

Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2000
Messages
19,357
Location
Eugene, OR
Gender
Male
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE) - Are You A Certified Asshole? - A Service of Electric Pulp
Find Out With the Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE) - A 24-Question Self-Exam by Bob Sutton
The questions are all true/false about statements like:
You feel surrounded by incompetent idiots – and you can’t help letting them know the truth every now and then.

You were a nice person until you started working with the current bunch of creeps.

You don’t trust the people around you, and they don’t trust you.
That last one has
Test 1: Do other people feel sad, less worthy, or demotivated after talking with the alleged asshole?

Keep in mind that not all assholes are identifiable because they’re yelling at others; there are far more subtle ways to put someone down. Use this list, known as Sutton’s “Dirty Dozen” to pick out some of the less obvious asshole behavior:

Insults, Violation of personal space, Unsolicited touching, Threats, Sarcasm, Flames, Humiliation, Shaming, Interruption, Backbiting, Glaring, Snubbing

Test 2: Does the alleged asshole mistreat those who are less powerful?

Certified assholes often treat their bosses and business partners nicely, but anybody else poorly. According to Sutton, the best test of character is to see how someone behaves toward people that have no power over themselves.
 

rousseau

Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
12,279
A co-worker of mine from the last company I worked at comes to mind. I wouldn't describe him as an asshole, just not particularly smart in the way he dealt with other people. Eventually the company outright fired him.

In my experience there are (broadly) two types of unintelligent person - those who lack confidence and those who are over-confident. Those who lack confidence tend to waste people's time, while those who are over confident tend to annoy everybody. Usually neither realizes they are doing so.

It's like Max Ehrmann said in Desiderata - 'Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit'

I probably come across like an asshole at times - my approach to avoid doing so is to let others come to me. If the attention is coming my way, at least I know my response is warranted.
 
Top Bottom