Author, Speaker, Addiction & Relinquishment Consultant, Relinquishee, Adoptee, MPE


Today’s workplace is weighed down by jerks, bullies, tyrants, and despots is what Robert Sutton author of The No Assholes Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn’t says is just euphemisms for what others really call those creeps.  Sutton defines “assholes” as those who make colleagues feel less-than and who use their authority over those less powerful.  Brave enough to take the Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE)?  Go ahead I did!

I’m an admirer of Robert Sutton, the Stanford University professor of Management Science and Engineering who wrote the book The No Assholes Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn’t. You’ll see Bob’s blogs, The Working Life and Work Matters, listed in my Blogroll.

Professor Sutton’s premise is a simple one: today’s workplace is weighed down by “jerks,” “bullies,” “tyrants,” and “despots,” – sorry, these are merely, as Sutton says, “just euphemisms for what people really call those creeps”. Sutton contends that “assholes” – those who deliberately make colleagues feel less-than and who wield their authority over those less powerful – are toxic and destroy the work environment, diminish productivity, and provoke capable employees to leave – are a danger to business and everyone around them.

Sutton and Guy Kawasaki have collaborated to create the ARSE (Asshole Rating Self-Exam). To date, 83,644 have dared to take the exam online. Give it a go! I did.

I communicate and interrelate with many people who work with and for these types of people. It’s never easy, and many mornings they aren’t exactly looking forward to work when that alarm clock goes off. It’s difficult to maintain, let alone achieve, life balance when such a large part of their lives is so clearly and heavily out of balance. And when they do get through their days, there’s often negative spillover from work into their private lives – they are feel like they’re constantly walking on eggshells because they feel their work position is in jeopardy, or they cannot enjoy the present time with family and friends because their minds are preoccupied with work, or they’re having problems sleeping, or – the list goes on.

The fact of the matter is that not everyone is fortunate enough to love his or her job. Do you need to love your job? Not necessarily. Most people don’t love their work. Many like it, some tolerate it. For most, it simply supports their lifestyle.

The WORKPLACE SURVIVAL Dialog – You’re Invited to Participate

We may now be dealing, or at some point in our lives we’ve all had to deal, with a workplace that is less than civilized. How have we handled it? What have we done to get through the toughest times?

That’s the subject of The WORKPLACE SURVIVAL Dialog:

How do we deal with a less-than-ideal work situation?
How do we keep those unpleasant circumstances from affecting every aspect of our lives?

Here’s your chance to weigh in on the issue.

REFLECTIONS on Balance Readers – Simply leave a comment. Hint: HTML is permitted in the comment area and will be converted into links (for example, if you include in the comment box, it will appear as a link on my blog). In addition, be sure to include your Web site address, if you have one, where it asks for one on the comment form.


  • Write a post on your blog about how you’ve dealt with a troubling work situation.
  • Link to other posts or blogs on this topic or include comments properly credited.
  • Link back to this post if you’d like to be included and linked back to in future posts on this topic. Please help me to help you by emailing me notice of your post.
  • Include “workplace survival dialog” in your Technorati tags (if you use them).
  • Spread the word. Feel free to use the Workplace Survival banner with proper acknowledgment.

The deadline for this project is May 21, 2007.

Before I contribute to the dialog, I’d like to thank Ben Yoskovitz at the Instigator Blog for his inspirations.

I’ll start this dialog off:

Regardless of how bad one’s situation is at work – no matter how powerless you may feel at the moment, you have the ability to define what the rest of your life will look like. Change may not happen overnight, but it can definitely happen in increments.

Focus on living in the present. When you’re at work, approach it with integrity. Give the most to it instead of making the best of it. Take satisfaction in the way you do your job. Be passionate about the way you do your job.

Work is only one part of your life. Remember to live the rest of your life as well. Focus on what’s important to you and set goals for all the many roles you play in life:

Family — these goals give us the chance to show love, take on responsibility, share responsibility, and make a positive contribution to society.

Friends — these goals give you the chance to share, to care, and to bare your soul and bond with people you like.

Solitude — these goals earmark quiet time for you to recharge your batteries, calm yourself, rest up, and make plans.

Developmental — these are your goals that allow you to improve your emotional and intellectual development. Self-improvement is the name of the game here.

Financial — these goals allow you to plan for and buy a new car, a new boat, a great new home, a fun family vacation, retirement income, or anything else you want…or to achieve financial freedom so that you needn’t work for others. You can also set a financial goal to retire early if you like.

Leisure — these goals exist to make sure you don’t burn out. By making time for recreation, you restore your health. This category includes fun activities that help you blow off steam and give you chances to socialize, meet new friends, and develop new skills.

Health — these goals should never by neglected by entrepreneurs, but too often they are. If you’re not physically healthy, your brain function suffers, and your spirits sag. Therefore, you need to set goals for your diet, exercise, resistance training, and sufficient sleep.

Spiritual — these goals give us the chance to tap into power that is much greater than our own and that provides a source of inspiration and strength. From this, we gain morals and a sense of wonder and awe at the whole of creation.

Change will never happen unless you consciously choose it, set goals, and take steps. It starts with self-assessment.

Decide where you want to be and take action to get there. Build your life plan and your work plan will become much easier to manage, integrate, or create meaning in.

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