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Bob Sutton

Chuck,

I like your question, and in fact, calling people an "asshole" is one of the most effective ways I know of to turn a person into an asshole (indeed, there is even a lab study at Michigan that shows this, with the weird twist that American males who grew un in the South are likely to become hostile when called assholes, and bumped, than Northern males.). I think it is important to avoid labeling people as assholes, but I also think that when a group or organization has a person who provokes the reaction "wow, what an asshole." That means the rule might be ripe for appplication. And I would also add that this isn't just an us-them thing, when people label themselves as assholes, it is an important first step to change. In fact, I was thinking of your post about the big firm lawyer who started acting like a jerk to you when he realized you weren't in a big firm -- now that is a guy who might just benefit from realizing that he acted like an asshole!

Great comment.

Chuck Newton

But, are we being assholes by referring to other types of people as assholes?

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