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Joy Cassell

When I first read the title of your book I laughed so hard my side hurt.
Having worked for my share of assholes I can create a list of companies who need your services :)
But this will get me in trouble.


Thanks for posting this. I imagine this hasn't changed much throughout human history. One thing that apparently has changed is peoples' ability to admit that the behavior is inhumane, and most likely economically suboptimal.

Evolutionary Psychologists have spent a fair amount of time studying the coexistence of hawk and dove subpopulations in human societies, and their so-called "evolutionary arms race". See David Buller's Adapting Minds for more. Recognition of the prevalence of bullies, and dissemination of material that underlies these facts seems like the latest move by the doves.

What I find curious is the level of bullying and mobbing that goes on in Liberal/Democratic constituencies like New York City. Poster children Scott Rudin and Harvey Weinstein are both Democratic Party donors.

Wally Bock

Thanks for sharing that study, Bob. I haven't seen one before that attempted to use a statistically valid sample.

What amazes me most about the whole asshole issue is how many people and organizations cater to them.

After I got out of the Marines, my wife and I moved to the midwest where she took a job at a local religious agency. The employment agency that sent her over warned her that this might be a "difficult" job but not to worry, they were waiving their normal "if you leave within 90 days we'll kill you" rule.

The interview with the editor that my wife would work for went well. She took the job.

The yelling and abuse started about ten minutes into her first day on the job. She lasted a week. Here's the amazing part.

The editor worked for a church, but the clergy and other church people condoned her behavior by doing nothing. The employment agencies in town all waived their 90 day policies, but kept sending folks over. From a moral or a business perspective keeping the senior editor on and sending new junior editors through a meat grinder was a bad idea. Still, there she stayed for years and dozens of assistants and lots of fees for employment agencies.

PR Johnson

(Sorry, this is partly a repeat of a comment I made earlier, I had just put it in the wrong place by mistake).

I saw your excellent manifesto on Changethis. I wonder if you've read an earlier manifesto, 'Why your boss is programmed to be a dictator' Though it only talks of abusive bosses and not assholes in general, I think it's a very interesting, though radical, manifesto.

I currently have a boss who is not directly abusive, but causes hell for all of us. He doesn't have a personal life so expects us to be at the office till late in the evening. For example, he will wait until 6pm and then say, "can you please draft me a 30 slide presentation before you go. It's urgent." And he knows that we know that the work isn't urgent. He just does it to show off his power. I think of this as abusive behavior even though he is superficially very polite. If we disagree to do what he says, he hints to us that he will mark us down in our appraisal for not working hard enough. How do you deal with someone who is not overtly abusive, and someone the higher bosses think is an extremely sweet boss?

Re the regional difference phenomenon, I'm not sure but I think perhaps old-fashioned common courtesy values are more prevalent in the South than elsewhere. I also would like to know (are there any studies?)to see what the family breakdown levels are, to see if there's a correlation between family breakdown and abusive bosses. Are there more 'together' families in the South, compared to the other regions?

Loren Rosson III

----"Southern workers (34%) are less likely to have experience with an abusive boss than are their Northeastern (56%) and Midwestern (48%) counterparts."----

This may indicate that southerners are more conditioned to accept asshole behavior as a norm, and don't perceive it as abusive.

----"People in the South were the most civilized and people in the Northeast were least. Midwesterners and Westerners were somewhere in the middle."----

The irony of shame-based cultures (which the American south is relative to other parts of the U.S., as you note in your book) is that while asshole behavior gets more legitimacy, certain forms of etiquette -- politeness, civility -- become just as important, almost by way of compensation.

Hmmmm, who's better off, I wonder?

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