Workplace conflicts with the “assholes”

First of all, I would like to come clean, that the strong expression used in the title is being used from the professional literature, it is not invented by me 🙂 Robert I. Sutton in his book called ‘The Asshole Survival Guide’ uses this expression for those people at workplaces whom we are happy to avoid, to say the least. If we can, of course.

“Discourteous, humiliating people who have an offensive manner deteriorate the workplace productivity of those, who are in connection with them. Their decision-making ability, productivity, creativity, their willingness to invest extra effort if needed decreases because of these people.”

But what happens, if we need to work together with such people day by day? They can make our life really miserable, and not only those few hours we spend together at the workplace, but even beyond that.


First and foremost, it is crucial to realise the situation what we work together with such an a-hole. It can happen, that due to our fears, family patterns, or giving in to our own bad luck we just tolerate and tolerate, and we don’t even notice the situation we are in.

The 10 biggest lies people tell themselves in such cases:

  1. “It is not all that bad after all” – denying the current situation
  2. “Actually, it is getting better” – imaginary improvement
  3. “Soon things will get better” – just a wish, without any foundation
  4. “I will quit and find a better place, as soon as I finish with this one last important thing” – tomorrow never comes
  5. “I learn so much and build such relationships, that it is worth it, even if I am being hurt” – it is so good, that it hurts
  6. “Only I can fix this situation. No one can replace me” – the saviour complex
  7. “Yes, it is bad. But I am tough! It does not affect me” – I am not a whiner
  8. “Yes, it is bad. But I can keep things separately, so it doesn’t really have an effect on the relationships with my family and friends” – I can switch this thing on and off. Of course.
  9. “Yes, it is bad for me, but it is even worse for others! I have no right to complain” – hypocrite and self-righteous behaviour
  10. “It is bad for me here, but if I go somewhere else, it will be even worse for me” – the grass is going to be browner elsewhere


Maybe one or more of the above sentences sound familiar to you? Do you tend to tell these things to you from time to time?

In this case there is a good chance that you have to deal with either one, or a bunch of a-holes in your workplace. Be aware!

If you would like to know how to recognise these people, situations and how to counter them, watch out for my next article.

Source: Robert I. Sutton – The Asshole Survival Guide

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