Customer Reviews: The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
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on February 7, 2007
I am not one who typically reviews books. I do have to say that the No A**hole Rule was an excellent book both in researched content and personality. I was able to read this book in one sitting. It is very topical for anyone who shares a workplace with A**holes or demeaning people. I am sure that most of us do not have the luxury of avoiding these people on a day to day basis. If so, let me know where you work .

For the most part, it is inevitable that we have to deal with these people face to face. This is the first book that doesn't skirt around the facts of diagnosing these people as a**holes (by there actions) and giving effective advice on how to deal with them or not be one of them.

Bob Sutton's List of The Dirty Dozen Common Everyday Actions That A**holes Use

1. Personal insults

2. Invading one's personal territory

3. Uninvited personal contact

4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and non-verbal

5. Sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems

6. Withering email flames

7. Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims

8. Public shaming or status degradation rituals

9. Rude interruptions

10. Two-faced attacks

11. Dirty looks

12. Treating people as if they are invisible

The Author sites companies that have effectively instilled a "No A**hole Rule" because they have realized that the true cost of the A**hole runs deeper than the A**hole's salary (TCA or Total Cost of A**holes). It truly can diminish productivity in the office, increase employee turnover, stifle communication, and lower employee self esteem and health. The book explains how to implement a No A**hole Rule at any organization.

According to the book, negative interactions have a five time stronger effect on mood than positive interactions. So you can see that keeping around that "very productive A**hole" may have deeper implications that do not show up on the books, but take a toll on the ones around him/her.

There is a whole section in the book detailing how to avoid being an A**hole which I won't get into here. I think that it is a truly insightful section on how to face ones own demons, and to be a more effective co-worker/partner/boss in a work environment.

The section that really jumped out for me (due to its immediate applicability) was the ways to deal with A**holes. Many books talk about enthusiasm and working harder with passion allows you to get around people who are demeaning and rude at work. This book explains that this is not necessarily the head on solution to avoid rudeness in the workplace. In some instances, developing indifference and emotional detachment may be the best way to survive in the long run while achieving small victories. In the end, small victories can lead to winning the war. You can also limit your exposure, hope for the best and expect the worse, de-escalate and re-educate, or stand up to A**holes.

In conclusion, this was a great read. I think it is extremely topical for anyone who is involved in HR or hiring new employees and management. I also believe that it is an especially good read if you are a victim of A**holes on a day to day basis.

Oh, it also makes a GREAT GIFT for the token A**hole in your office. Enjoy!
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on February 22, 2007
I have never written a review on Amazon, but feel strongly about writing a review for Sutton's No A**hole book because I feel many people whose might be concerned about the "taboo" title might not look beyond it and do themselves a great disservice.

As a female professional, I felt highly empowered reading this book. Dr. Sutton acknowledges the bullying and crass behavior that frequently occurs in the workplace and offers concrete ways to combat these trying individuals. I have already practiced his technique of publicly discounting bullying behavior with great success.

I found his suggestions for handling office place bullies - as both a superior and subordinate actions extremely smart and well-grounded. This book is based on sound social psychology and organizational research and does a great service to workers throughout the world.

I have dog earred many pages of the book and expect it to be a handy reference for many years to come.
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I'll make my review brief, since this is a little book with a very concise point. Basically, life is far too short to tolerate jerks in the workplace. It's easy to spot these people based upon the havoc they wreak and the fact that they always choose targets with less power than themselves. This book provides terrific strategies for dealing with jerks, whether you are in management and want to weed them out, or are unfortunate enough to be working under them.

One of my favorite lines in the book is: " Passion is an overrated virtue in organizational life, and indifference is an underrated virtue." While self-professed management gurus who have never had a real job like to trumpet passion in the workplace (and implicitly accept jerk-like behavior), Dr. Sutton points out that sometimes a bit of detachment goes a long way in making life bearable. This is a book about picking your battles and doing what you can to make your workplace enjoyable. It is a quick, interesting and easy read.
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on November 29, 2007
The reason I bought this book was the finer print inside of it's title: "Surviving One That Isn't." This book gave countless examples of mega-(_|_)'s in the workplace, but unless you're a trust-fund baby, we've all worked with our share and don't need endless examples and reminders of why we bought this book. What we need is, what we expect the book to deliver, sound advice on how to navigate the corporate landscape that's riddled with these bastards, while not becoming one of their roadkill along the way.

I really wanted to like this book. It had been highly recommended by a colleague and I'd researched the author and read some of his previously published articles before I actually purchased the book. However, that's precisely my other issue with this book-it was my experience that the author had taken a few previously published articles, and then tried to stretch them out into a book. To that end, throughout the book there were the same few corporate case-studies being used in the examples.

If you want to be reminded of how awful these types of jerks can be, go buy the book, but don't expect any relief from it.
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on February 2, 2011
This book was useless. I read it because I'm dealing with female co-workers who treat me poorly. Treat me like I'm invisible or like I'm stupid, give me looks, little comments, and tone of voice make my feel like dirt every day. I've tried to make nice with no success.

After reading the preview for this book on Amazon, and great reviews, I thought this would help me deal or cope with the situation. It did not. The dirty dozen list at the beginning of the book seemed like a home run. But he never went detail on it. It was just a list! The book was simply not specific enough. The book talks too much theory. Half of the book was more about not hiring A's and how to put it into practice as a business strategy. Another chunk was about how to tell if you are an A yourself and how to not be an A. Another chunk was about the benefits of being an A. And studies and stories throughout about extreme A's who scream at people which most of us don't have to deal with. (THAT I'd know how to deal with - leave!)

The only thing missing was what I actually needed = specific things to do or say to help deal with the A's who subtly but very clearly make me feel worthless.

I think there were a couple paragraphs on how to reframe or detach which you have likely heard before and is easier said than done.

I was puzzled by the high reviews... so just now I read some of the 5 star reviews. Many seem unnatural and like an ad for the book, not a real review. Don't know if they are real or fake, but you may want to use a little skepticism?
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on March 20, 2007
This book has clearly struck a cord, for good reason: it's an important book about an important topic. People are tired of having their workplaces poisoned by the behavior of a few a-holes.

I know Bob through Stanford so I admit that I may be biased, but I know lots of people who have written management books and haven't endorsed them. Bob has thought deeply about this topic as a researcher, teacher, and expert on organizations. The book is not only wise, it's a pleasure to read. Bob is great at taking solid research and making it relevant and fun.

Here are three reasons to buy this book:

1) Understand your workplace. This book weaves together front-line academic research on why powerful people behave badly, how workplaces can become toxic, and why bad behavior spreads like a virus (but optimism can as well).

2) Fix your workplace. For anyone who has put up with nasty bosses and demeaning coworkers, this book shows you how organizations ranging from law firms to retail stores, from JetBlue to Google, have protected their employees from bad behavior.

3) Change your interactions. This book shows you how to avoid being a victim of a-holes in your workplace and community. It also helps you recognize when you might be the a-hole, and gives you hints on how to achieve your goals without lapsing into bad behavior.

Bob has the reputation among students and faculty of being one of the nicest people at our university and he works in a group of researchers that has the reputation of being an extremely supportive place for graduate students. Universities often breed arrogant behavior, so Bob's reputation (and that of his group) testifies to his ability to put ideas into practice. This book will help you and your organization.
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on March 2, 2007
Although I have only read the first three chapters, I am a believer!! It really is golden for all of us because at one time or another we'll have to survive one of these workplaces. I wish I had this book to read when I was in that type of workplace. I wouldn't have suffered as much as I did, and would have had concrete methods of how to handle situations.

Also, don't let the somewhat abrasive A** title deter you from reading this book. It kept me away from picking up this book to read it at first.

This book also has the potential of being cathartic for those who have had to survive a horrible workplace environment. I too worked in a toxic environment with an insensitive, demeaning and oppressive boss. Every criticism was passive-agressive so it took me some time to realize my slowly deteriorating capacity to serve. She would talk down to my administrative associate and myself to keep us in the "place" she thought we should be. When we did things to better our project and make it the best it could be or provide helpful suggestions, she would accuse me of wanting all the "control"...(yeah, it was a nightmare!!!) This books speaks to that kind of paranioa in the workplace and that sometimes not matter how much you love a job, some can make it unbearable.

This book helped me realize that I do/did not have unrealistic expectations of what a quality supervisor should be. It's "hammer meet nail" kind of material.
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on March 29, 2007
Once in a while, a business book comes along that really hits a very important nail right on the head. Stanford Professor Bob Sutton's new book is one of them.

What the book does is argue that it is both anti-humane and counter-productive to give jerks free reign in the workplace, and that organizations riddled with destructive individuals - no matter how "valuable", powerful, and successful they are - should make conscious and deliberate steps towards changing their bad behaviors. Or get rid of them.

I hope that those who might be put-off by the title, or the use throughout the book of "the word" can get over it. Sutton may be provocative here, but he's not being cute. There really is no substitute for that particular word, and anyone who's experienced one at work - as victim, innocent by-stander, or even occasional perpetrator - knows it.

Sutton has the statistics to back up his claims that allowing bad behavior in the workplace is costly, citing studies that show the high proportion of people who have been negatively impacted by those insult, demean, and humiliate those under them in the organization. He even comes up with a mechanism for calculating how to itemize the overall cost of having jerks around by factoring in items like the cost of recruiting replacements for people who quit, HR expenditures on interventions and counseling, etc.

Sutton notes that many companies do, in fact, have some sort of "no jerk rule", but he is clear in pointing out that just having a rule in place is not enough. The rule needs to be enforced. You can't start making exceptions, and you have to develop a culture in which if someone's acting like a jerk - and we're all pretty much capable of acting like one on occasion, even if we're not chronic offenders - anyone can call them on it, even if the jerk's the boss.

For those who get stuck in bad situations, and where walking out is not an option, Sutton offers good advice. Forget those calls for passion and commitment. If you're in a bad company, you should "develop indifference and emotional attachment," he advises. "There are times when the best thing for your mental health is to not give a damn about your job, company, and especially all those nasty people." He goes on to offer further coping strategies: find and hang out with "the good guys," look for small victories, offer emotional support to other victims (while avoiding the rat-hole of non-productive gripe sessions), take control of what you can... All sound advice.

My quibbles with the book are minor: I think that Sutton may err on the side of providing a little too much "survey said" - they all started to sound the same. And a couple of his jerk examples were so extreme that I'm afraid that some people will come away from their reading convinced that the pedestrian abuse that they suffer or witness in their workplace is so minor that it's not worth thinking about. Or that even chronic offenders will be able to let themselves off the hook - "Hey, I'm not as bad as that jerk."

I'm sure, based on its title alone, Bob Sutton's new book will fare pretty well. But I'd hate to see it end up as a gag gift or stocking stuffer. Quibbles aside, this is an important book for anyone concerned about creating a healthier workplace. In an increasingly fractious and on-edge world, it would be comforting to know that, at least while you were at work, you weren't going to have to deal with obnoxious jerks determined to make your life miserable.
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on March 13, 2007
This book is both insightful and entertaining. Professor Sutton doesn't just point out to us that we are often surrounded by people who are self-absorbed and mean-spirited. He gives us case studies that illuminate the spectrum of this behavior, how it evolves, and how best to deal with it. I found the book extremely empowering, especially the story of Andrea who is able to identify people who are going to make her life miserable and extracts herself before she is drawn into the downward spiral of dealing with colleagues who are going to make her life unbearable.

One of the important features of the book is that it doesn't assume that everyone should be sickly sweet all the time. Professor Sutton acknowledges that at times being a jerk is a strategy. Some managers and customers call upon this "tool" at times in order to get things done. We should all be aware that this is an option that we always have at our disposal. But, it should be used with great caution.

I highly recommend this book. I read it on the plane and everyone around me asked about it... The conversation that followed was fascinating as everyone had their own story to tell that supported Professor Sutton's ideas.
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on June 13, 2007
The initial concept is well thought out and communicated. But then, the book begins to fall flat. Very little substantive information, other than continued repetition of the main theme. By the last chapter I was skimming for content and finally closed the book thinking, is that all there is? I think this was a great article that should have stayed just that--this book is not ready for prime time.
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