The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! The A-Hole Antibody

April 5th, 2018

What’s Hot?

Aaron James, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of California, Irvine, offers advice on how to mitigate A-HOLE’S toll on morale and productivity in his book “Assholes: A theory” published by Nicholas Brealey.

So What?

A-holes, as described by James, are people who “ interrupt too often, belittle colleagues, bark orders when a polite request will do, who think that they are entitled to show up late for meetings, dominate the conversation, and set normal courtesy aside…who will  vigorously and brazenly defend their behavior and certainly won’t apologize because they are immune to other people’s sensitivities.”  There are enough of them in the workplace that you will probably encounter at least one during your career.










What to do?

James’ best advice is “don’t seek retribution, and make sure your response is safe, proportional and productive. The goal is not war, but civil peace.” We agree.

He goes on to suggest that an A-Hole probably won’t listen or change.  Nevertheless, he acknowledges you have a right to better treatment.   We suggest the following actions:

  1. Request respect. Example:  When you interrupt me and say “you’re wrong” before I have finished, I feel disrespected.  Please wait until I have finished speaking.   Then, continue.
  2. Pose an uncomfortable query. Example:  I am wondering why you are questioning my findings here in this forum, when I sent you a copy of this report a week ago for your review before we convened for this meeting?
  3. Never stop a meeting that is in progress to “catch-up” the late-arriving A-Hole.
  4. Since most A-Holes rarely change (being a jerk works for them), minimize your interactions with Don’t laugh at their rude jokes or engage in their snarky remarks and refuse to engage in public arguments.   Avoid them to the degree possible and greet their attempts to bait you with stony silence.
  5. Don’t complain. True A-Holes have a sense of entitlement that immunizes them against the complaints of other people.   If it gets to the point where you are ready to sit down face-to-face with the jerk,  don’t voice what you want to say in the form of a complaint. They don’t care about your concerns.  Instead, ask a question like: I would like to know what you want to gain by (state whatever he or she has done to you)?   Then, shut up.   In your silence remind yourself that you are a good person, worthy of respect.

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