On November 22, 2006, I got a lengthy email from a faculty, who shall remain nameless but who continues to "teach" at the university where I work, in which he defended his unprofessional and rude behavior with the following sentences:
maybe I have experienced so much criticism from all angles that I did lack a bit of courtesy; however, if you are going to exist in an administrative/director position at any level at any university I suggest you quickly develop a thicker skin...faculty are frequently, mostly without intention, discourteous and disrespectful.Eight years later, I continue to be shocked that one would write, among other things, "faculty are frequently, mostly without intention, discourteous and disrespectful." How awful that "discourteous and disrespectful" are considered to be standard operating procedures!
I now think that I should add this to my list of unfinished business; I have a nagging feeling I have plenty more to add to that list :(
We all suffer misfortunes in life, no doubt. But, it is one thing if a tree falls on your home in a windstorm, and another when a fellow-human behaves discourteously and disrespectfully. And, worse, believes it is ok to behave that way. As Aaron James calls them, well, there are too many assholes! Now, before you jump on James for using that word, keep in mind that he has a doctorate in philosophy from Harvard and is a tenured professor ;)
Before James writing about assholes, there was Robert Sutton, with his memorable The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. Sutton's book was published soon after my own November 2006 encounter with the asshole. Warning again: before you quibble with Sutton, note that he was a tenured professor at Stanford when he wrote that book ;)
Sutton authored a brief note in the Harvard Business Review on why he wrote the book, and why he used the word "asshole." He lists seven reasons there, of which:
The most important reason that I wrote this book is that demeaning people do terrible damage to others and to their companies. And even though there are occasions when being an asshole helps people and companies “win,” my view is that if you are a winner and an asshole, you are still an asshole and I don’t want to be around you!Exactly! I have no desire to be anywhere near assholes. They may "win" and consider me to be a "loser," but I go to sleep with a clear conscience aware that yet another day in this short life I was not an asshole and, more importantly, stayed away from those who are assholes.
BTW, Sutton notes that a TV show about workplace assholes might be in the works! If that happens, well, it will be a never ending show, won't it! ;)