Surviving (Tolerating, Accepting, and Eluding) Negative People, Places, and Situations

The Latest Tips For Surviving Workplace Assholes, by Bob Sutton.  These tips include: escape if you possibly can, start with polite conversation, limit your contact with the person as much as possible, find ways to enjoy small wins over “assholes,” practice indifference and emotional detachment, keep an asshole diary, (document what they do to you and when it happens) recruit fellow victims and witnesses and take legal action if you must but only as the last possible resort.  Use your experience as a lesson, learn whatever you can from it and try to keep a level head in any situation, and don’t take your feelings out on yourself or anyone else.

Bob Sutton, creator of the No Asshole Rule, posted Wednesday 8 suggestions for “enduring and triumphing against abusive bosses and co-workers” titled Latest Tips for Surviving Workplace Assholes.

Professor Sutton offers the following courses of action:

  • Escape if you possibly can.
  • Start with polite conversation.
  • If a bully keeps spewing venom at you, limit your contact with the creep as much as possible.
  • Find ways to enjoy “small wins” over assholes.
  • Practice indifference and emotional detachment – learn how not to let an asshole touch your soul.
  • Keep an asshole diary – carefully document what the jerk does and when it happens.
  • Recruit fellow victims and witnesses.
  • Take legal action if you must, but do so as a last resort.

Negative people, places, and situations can have a detrimental effect on your life. Similarly to seemingly insurmountable workplace obstacles and situations, in the form of people and situations, there are no instant fixes for these sorts of problems in our private lives, either.

We can take a similar approach, however, as suggested by Bob Sutton (taken form my post A Final Word on Workplace Survival):

Ask yourself: “What’s my role in this?” Maybe there’s something that you’re doing or saying that’s contributing to the situation. Don’t ever assume that blame can be assessed at 100%.

ACT, don’t react. You have the opportunity to engage from a position of emotion or from one of reason. Choose the latter.

Use the experience as a lesson. Focus your energy on trying to learn how to work through these types of situations in the present and future instead of wasting your strength and losing your sanity on becoming frustrated.

Disengage. You don’t have to show up to every argument or confrontation simply because you’re invited or provoked to do so. You’re clear on what your purpose is. Simply ask yourself: “Is this encounter necessary for me to get my job done?” The answer, more often than not, will be a resounding “NO!”

Take responsibility, take action, take a look, and/or take a break – just don’t take it out on yourself or somebody else.

Thanks to Edith Yeung of Edith Dream Think Act for including this post in the Carnival of Small Business Issues.

Thanks to MableandHarry for including this post in their feature on How to Keep Employees, and to Martial Development for inclusion in the feature Bullying and Harassment Tips.


4 Replies to “Surviving (Tolerating, Accepting, and Eluding) Negative People, Places, and Situations

  1. Pingback: Edith Dream Think Act » Blog Archive » Carnival of Small Business Issues - September 25, 2007
  2. All this is well and good but not really…. like many people I live in a small community with a resident bully who abuses adults. The police know about him but aren’t up to doing anything to deter him. I wrote the basic story on the Martial Development website…
    This guy has abused alot of people, he is convicted armed robber, and has assaulted and battered many people including myself. I am not afraid of fighting him but I am afraid of an ineffective police force and the legal hassles that would follow from me wounding or killing this man. I want my freedom. The only reason I live in this town is to enjoy a space that he has decided to lord over and dominate.
    Your rules are simplistic and ineffective to anyone who sees the same bully twice. Escape, polite conversation, enjoying small victories… this ape tried to crush my head with a large piece of lava… he tried to run me off the road with his truck. The law won’t do anything and I don’t want his shitty karma in my life… I am 47, newly single after 18years, and just want to be left alone. I have a little dog and a place I like to swim. How do I keep that with an ape like this making every moment outside my house a stressful nightmare?

  3. deepstar,

    I am sorry to learn that you’re faced with such a difficult and seemingly hopeless situation. Life shouldn’t have to be so damned hard.

    My post did not deal with the lifestyle, serial bully that seems to have infiltrated your life. There are some serious considerations for you, all of which include taking action.

    Please visit (if you haven’t already).

    Many choices that must be made as a result of someone else’s actions are not easy, including leaving the environment where the bullying occurs, taking legal action (although, as you’ve noted, there is often no remedy here), getting involved in proactive support and political action groups, or pursuing civil action.

    Whatever you decide, I truly hope that you find the peace you deserve.


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