(Note: Profanity is used in the following post solely in reference to a book title and its contents.)
I was riding along, “channel surfing” my saved radio stations when I caught the end of this interview on NPR with this author named Bob Sutton.
He was talking about how rampant “meanness” is in today’s culture. But even moreso, he said, it seems to be confused with smartness.
In other words, there’s this myth that says “The meaner you are, the smarter or more successful you are.” He pointed out the wild popularity of folks like “American Idol’s Simon Cowell who’s trademark harsh, callous comments are often regarded by contestants and viewers as the true standard of talent validation in comparison to the comments of his nicer counterparts Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. (Of course, it could be argued that there are a number of reasons Cowell's comments are taken more seriously than Jackson's or Abdul's comments, but that's a whole 'nother post.)
My mind wandered to this book I purchased at a silent book auction a couple of years ago called “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers” by Lois P. Frankel. I admit that, even to this day, I haven’t even cracked the book open yet, but I spent my buck on it based on the notion indicated in the title: You have to be the opposite of nice if you want to get ahead.
Sutton disputes this myth in his book “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.” According to Sutton there are two simple, quick tests that can determine whether or not someone in your workplace is an asshole.
Then, there are the temporary assholes and the certified assholes. We all have been temporary assholes at some point or another, Sutton asserts, but the certified asshole is the one that you really need to look out for. And if it turns out to be you, you need to correct it.
You should really check out this excerpt to take the test yourself. I found myself thinking of a couple of certified, ahem, characters I’ve encountered along the way, (Disclaimer coming in 5...4...3...2...) None of which are at my current place of employment, of course. (You never know who's reading this!)
But at the end of the day in the battle of good vs. evil, nice vs. asshole, do the assholes really win?