The other day on a college email group somebody asked something on the lines of ‘What/Who is an asshole?’. The idea was to avoid working or hiring assholes. I decided to share my wisdom on the subject on the email, reproduced below.

I’ve been an offender as well as a victim or an observant fly on the wall. To save you money from buying the book I shall write what I know.

They come in all sorts of shapes and forms. What they say or think matters not, its their actions that shall help you identify them. As the label is generally given by a different person, I would argue that intent or lack of it behind an action is irrelevant since its clear only to the person being an asshole.

Let me break it down here. What is assholery?

  1. Inconsiderate social behavior ex: Talking loudly in a move theater, walking out of a meeting because your phone rang, insulting or castigating a person/group in their presence, not apologizing, etc.
  2. Deliberate attempt to deceive somebody for personal gain ex: Saying you are working from home when you are not, making a ridiculous excuse when you are late, actively or passively taking credit for somebody’s work, etc.
  3. Complete and utter disregard for others ex: Reneging on an internship or a job offer because something better came up after a firm commitment, disappearing when you agreed to be responsible for something, bitching about somebody when they aren’t around, etc.
  4. Shifting principles and standards on the basis of who is on the other side ex: Charming your girl friend while being a daily pain to your mother, mistreating a waiter/server while expecting great customer service, being non responsive to a particular person without explanation etc.

I’m sure all of us have done these things. Repeat offenders are labeled assholes. If they can be avoided, they best be avoided. A few of them are reading this right now.

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