D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

D’Arcy’s Book Club and 1st 2010 Review: The No Asshole Rule

Sunday, January 3, 2010 11:26 PM


That’s right, Oprah isn’t the only hottie to have their own book club! One thing that I didn’t get a chance to do as much of last year was read. I have a pile of books sitting on my night table, but with our daughter being born in July I haven’t had a chance to plow through them. Now that life has settled into a schedule, I want to get back into these tomes of business and technology wisdom. What better way to help ensure I do that then by creating a semi-fictitious book club! I say semi-fictitious because, while you probably won’t see my book club logo on any book jackets at your local store, I am hoping that people will comment and share their thoughts on the books I post about. I’m aiming for at least 2 books a month (which is actually pretty aggressive). Let me know if there’s any books you recommend as well. Ok, so on to our first review:

The No Asshole Rule
Robert I. Sutton PHD

Links To Purchase At:




We all can look back on our careers and point to at least one person (and probably more) that we would label an asshole. If the language is a little too blue for you, feel free to substitute jerk. Dr. Sutton, in The No Asshole Rule (TNAR), explains what a workplace asshole is and what they do, describes the damage (both interpersonally but also financially and reputation wise for an organization), strategies to implement your own NAR, helps the reader realize if they in fact are an asshole, and tips for those having to survive working with assholes.

The book itself is an easy read; it clocks in at under 200 pages. For myself I found it more of a review. Maybe that’s telling that I’ve worked with assholes in the past or that I have built up my own defence system against asshole behaviour. Still, Sutton presents a great amount of knowledge and insight gleamed from years as a professor and pulling in commentary and statistics from business people and researchers.

Assholes exist, and they suck the life out of people wherever they go. They’re energy vampires, preying on those they see as vulnerable and beneath them. The book encourages readers to try and implement a No Asshole Rule in their organizations. The rationale is that if you get rid of the negative drains on your employee’s energy and remove aspects of fear and negativity in the workplace, productivity and overall health of the organization will increase.

This sounds like a no-brainer, common sense type of thing. The problem is that, while many of us may recognize assholeic behaviour, we rarely act to squash the behaviour or we work in an atmosphere that encourages it. For those that are experiencing this for the first time, or are trying to cope in an environment plagued with assholes, this book offers some great insight and guidance. For managers and leaders, its an important read that challenges us to evaluate what we really value: money and production or treating people with dignity and respect.

But there were parts of the book that I found really frustrating. Chapter 5 is called “Tips for Surviving Nasty People and Workplaces”. This chapter is basically telling people who are stuck working in toxic situations how to weather the storms and come out with some semblance of mental health and emotional stability. I was uneasy reading this as it’s somewhat akin to telling a drug addict: Look, heroin is really bad for you…but if you’re going to shoot up, here’s some clean needles. Ideally everybody should have enough self respect to not put up with asshole behaviour. Of course, ideally we wouldn’t have assholes to begin with. I guess I have my own standards of who I will/won’t work for and the environments that I require to maintain employment.

The hardcover of the book is available now, and it appears that a paperback is going to be available in March or May of this year. If you’ve read the book please leave a comment and tell us what your take of it is.

D’Arcy’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5


# re: D’Arcy’s Book Club and 1st 2010 Review: The No Asshole Rule

Sounds like an interesting book. I have one suggestion for people who have to work with assholes: confront them, call them on it, challenge their behaviour. That's one thing that stood out for me when I earned my degree in Pyschology (a B.A., but still...): by not confronting inappropriate behaviour, you're essentially conditioning that behaviour as appropriate.

Think about it. Especially you managers out there who want to be every employee's "buddy" and are afraid to crack the whip. 1/6/2010 10:11 PM | Eric Legault [MVP - Outlook]

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