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rich solomon

Interesting and welcome perspective on the problem. If not-being-an-asshole is a kind of intelligence then the concept "every group has at least one asshole and if you can't tell who it is maybe it's you" is easily extended to substitute "idiot" for "asshole". That is, "it's great to be in the company of all these really smart people." Or is it?

The point is that very smart or overly achievement-motivated people's existence condemns them to suffer the presence of people they can't hold a conversation with, and may easily come to regard ordinary minds as lazy or idiotic, the same way that people deeply concerned with social intelligence may find the assholism of others to be intolerable. And for individualistic over-achievers social maladjustment may be compensated for by more time on one's own to practice one's craft. I'm not sure if social intelligence has an analog there.

We do well to remember that assholism is a personality trait, not a essence of one's being as it may sometimes seem when considering specific examples. So as with any type of intelligence, nobody can become a different person endowed with intelligence they lack in their present state of being, but anyone with a bit of interest and motivation can improve what understanding and ability they do possess, learn to be less quick-to-judge, more compassionate, or more aware of the workings of subatomic particles.

paul long

Bob, I enjoyed your post. For myself I'm careful of the corollary however: Being an asshole doesn't mean you are RIGHT. In my view it turns out to be a basically small percentage who are right about anything and the combination of asshole plus wrong headed seen in many corporate and political leaders is painful.


Another problem with the asshole who is right. If their assholivity index is sufficiently high, in my experience they can so "poison the well" that it becomes very difficult if not impossible for those who agree with them to advance the cause with those in the organization who count (i.e., have the gold).

Then there are the local supporters of the asshole who are personal friends and perceive the individual as brilliant and a huge asset to the organization. But because of their role doesn't include functioning with the organization's "gold holders," they don't see the toxic effects, can't understand the organization's reaction, and end up being enablers of the asshole's behavior.

Simon Bostock

Reminded me of something on Ambigamy:

Calling somebody an asshole when they're not being an asshole should be considered as big a weakness as being an actual asshole...

"I have an idea how to tame this taming-term problem. Fallacies should come in paired opposites on the assumption that for every infraction there is an equal and opposite infraction. For example, there ought to be a term of equal weight for the counter strategy of accusing someone of projecting when you don’t want to hear what they’re telling you."

Daniel Christadoss

Thanks for helping us to look at the other side of the coin.
I believe this is why working as a team is important. We can bring out the best collectively and use each others skill set.
So much to learn and so much to share. Mentor and be mentored.

Ron Gentile

Sadly for pro cycling and more broadly sports, history may show that Floyd Landis is one such asshole.

Joni E. Johnston, Psy.D.

Fascinating post. Please move the P.S. up, though!!! (Given the work I do, it's one of the main points I see overlooked by too many executives, i.e., when you're an asshole, people hate you so much and are so motivated to "get you" that it may take you years longer to get your point across or discovery recognized because your colleagues would rather cut off their noses than give you any credit.

DC Jobs

As for the idea of using a socially skilled partner, it sounds like a great idea, provided that the jerk in question can find someone who can sell his ideas without stealing them.

Steph Cowan

Bob, Thanks for sharing this tidbit from What a hilarious character that Crazy Fritz was! And how ironic that, despite seemingly despising the human race he was born into, he contributed profoundly to our understanding of the universe! It is good to remember that even an asshole is not without value.

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