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Maureen Rogers

Clueless and intentional are very useful distinctions,but there are others as well. Bob raises a very good point on the hyper-sensitive who act like anything that can even vaguely be construed as criticism is a big affront that sends them huffing off to piss and moan with their friends about how "they" (typically management) are so insensitive, mean,thoughtless, etc. In my experience, these folks have tended to be among the most powerless in the organization. Thus, perhaps there are "power assholes" who treat people like crap, and "no-power assholes" who make life and work unpleasant, but have no real ability to do you any harm.

Bob Sutton


You bring up two excellent points. The first one is that there are times when all of us get so task oriented that we forget other people's feelings (I plead guilty); I would also add that there are times when things simply have to get done fast and there are some people who are sensitive to every little slight that they devote all their energy to searching for personal slights and to being mad about how they are treated rather than helping to get something done. I can't stand working with people like that -- I would add however that in these two examples, people were taking it too far.

The second is that I am all for direct confrontation -- in fact I am very careful to point out in the no asshole rule that the book is not an argument for wimps. I don't like working with people who don't argue with me, or on the other side, turn every argument about ideas into a personal attack. So I am totally on board, and in fact, look for my next post on "fast fights." I describe one of my favorite teams ever, and we fought like crazy -- without ever getting mad. It was something.

And yes, all of us (especially intense people like me who like to get stuff done) have moments when we are temporary clueless assholes. And it is great to have people in our lives who can let us know -- they are priceless.

Great comment! Thanks you.

Wally Bock

These are stories of such obviously insensitive behavior that it's easy to think, "What an asshole!" Then it is good to remember the admonition of the great philosopher Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

I'm less concerned with folks who are assholes all the time than I am with the rest of us, who are pretty much OK, but have Clueless Asshole Moments (CAMs). I am especially concerned about me and the damage I can do with a CAM.

First, I'm very results focused. I'm the kind of guy who won't remember personal things to ask people about without a system of little 3 X 5 cards. I also grew up in a household where direct confrontation over issues was a value. At 60, I'm much more sensitive to my own tendencies than I was years ago, and I shudder to think of all the CAMs I had back then.

The point of this bit of self-confession is that things that can be good overall (results focus, ability to speak up candidly) can also cause CAMs. I don't think there's a quick fix for this. The only thing you can do is seek feedback and learn to stop and plan communications that some others (like my wife) can handle superbly without thinking much about it.

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