The Asshole Survival Guide Book Summary By Robert I. Sutton

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The Asshole Survival Guide by author Sam McNulty (2017) is a comprehensive guide to protect yourself from the assholes of this world.

This book helps readers understand and handle difficult people at any level of awfulness – whether it be a jerk boss, bully relative, or an annoying loudmouth neighbor.

It provides readers with the essential tools needed to recognize them, defend against their behavior, and ultimately prevent themselves from becoming one of these types of people.

With actionable advice from the expert in the field, The Asshole Survival Guide shows readers how to stay strong against hostility, become better equipped for negotiations, develop thicker skin for challenging scenarios, and regain their power when dealing with inequity.

The Asshole Survival Guide Book

Book Name: The Asshole Survival Guide (How to Deal With People Who Treat You Like Dirt)

Author(s): Robert I. Sutton

Rating: 4/5

Reading Time: 15 Minutes

Categories: Corporate Culture

Author Bio

Robert I.

Sutton has established himself as an expert in management and organizational behavior, having been an esteemed professor at Stanford University for many years.

His work has been widely published, such as his articles for the Harvard Business Review, Financial Times and McKinsey Quarterly.

He is also a best-selling author of notable books such as The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn from the Worst.

His latest book, The Asshole Survival Guide is sure to add more value to readers looking to learn coping mechanisms and strategies when dealing with problematic people they may encounter in their lives.

How To Deal With An Asshole: Tips And Tactics For Surviving In Toxic Environments

Toxic Environments

The Asshole Survival Guide provides readers with the tools and knowledge to combat the assholes of the world.

It acknowledges that no matter where you go or what you do, there will always be jerks who want to make your life more complicated.

Instead of avoiding them, this book aims to equip readers with the tactics they need to handle these difficult people and prepare for confrontations in toxic environments.

From understanding when an asshole’s behaviour is justifiable to learning how bad attitudes can be picked up like a cold, this guide will help readers better understand their adversaries and how they should respond in order to survive and thrive in spite of the toxicity.

Additionally, it imparts knowledge on how wealth can sometimes fuel asshole behaviour.

Overall, The Asshole Survival Guide equips readers with invaluable advice on how to deal with assholes in every stage of life.

How To Tell A Temporary Asshole From A Permanent One

It’s important to note that not all assholes are created equal.

Some are far worse than others, and one of the best ways to gauge whether someone is an asshole is by how they make you feel.

Do they leave you feeling oppressed, demeaned or otherwise upset?

Often, it’s easier to identify assholes in hindsight, once we’ve already been attacked or put down–but understanding how someone makes us feel can be a powerful tool for gaining some control of the situation.

Furthermore, it allows us to consider our reaction in the context of past events in our life, and possibly prepare ourselves for their next move.

Of course, there exist some temporary assholes–people who act out on occasion but revert back to normal after a period of time.

It might even be part of a leadership strategy employed by these people; research shows that a brief episode of aggression during a situation can spark a boost in performance from a team.

On the flip side, those who are constantly unpleasant don’t have the same effect when they’re angry.

So if you ever find yourself facing an oppressive or demeaning individual at work (or elsewhere), remember: Assholes are people who cause emotional unease and distress, and some can be much more serious than others.

Take The Initiative To Stop Putting Up With Asshole Bosses

It’s a fact of life that not everyone can be pleasant to deal with every time, but some people have a habit of being flat-out assholes.

Unfortunately, this means that you can end up in a situation where you are constantly suffering from mistreatment and you don’t even realize it.

This phenomenon is known as “asshole blindness”.

The author knows an IT employee who had to endure eight years of his boss’s unsympathetic and rude behaviour before they finally quit their job.

This was caused by a combination of factors including the person getting used to the mistreatment and the sunk cost fallacy – when someone has spent so much time, effort or money into something that they convince themselves not to make a change despite it being doomed.

It’s important for people in these situations to get away from assholes if they want to avoid growing used to mistreatment.

Companies like understand that sometimes personalities just don’t mesh, so transferring within the company can exist as an option without having to get permission from their current boss.

Google also conducted leadership studies which found that companies generally have both good and bad bosses, meaning taking action is possible if needed.

So if it seems like you’ve been putting up with asshole behaviour for too long, then now is the time to take back your power!

Look around for different opportunities or transfer within the same organisation and reclaim your rights instead of simply accepting unacceptable conduct as “normal”.

How To Avoid Being “Infected” By Assholes: Keep Your Distance

Keep Your Distance

When you’re stuck dealing with an asshole, it’s important to realize that their bad behavior is a bit like a contagious disease.

There’s scientific research to back this up- at the University of British Columbia, for example, students with teachers who were burnout showed signs of higher stress hormones than those with unburned out teachers.

Similarly, a study from the University of Florida found that it takes only one instance of rude behavior to “infect” someone and spread that negative attitude to others around them.

To avoid catching the asshole bug, then, it’s best to keep your distance – whether this means sitting as far away as possible at work or avoiding elevator rides – if you can help it.

This way, you’ll cut down on your exposure and hopefully avoid taking on the person’s negative traits in the process.

Interestingly enough, MIT professor Tom Allen found long ago (in the 1970s) that those who were working closeby communicated more frequently – which carries much more potential for catching the bad attitude these days since we have more modes of communication (texts, e-mail etc).

If you want to stay on top of your own mental health and well-being without being infected by an asshole’s bad energy, remember to keep a safe distance from them – no matter what!

Encountering Assholes? Turn Them Into Allies With Reframing And Reappraisal Strategies

We all have to deal with assholes, but it’s possible to reframe asshole behavior so that you don’t blame yourself for their actions.

For example, if someone is verbally abusing or bullying you, instead of taking it personally, try to think of a plausible explanation for the behavior – perhaps something stressful is going on in their life and they are taking it out on you.

This type of reappraisal can be extremely effective.

In fact, studies done at Stanford University have found that when students were presented with upsetting photographs of angry people, those who were given the opportunity to consider that perhaps these people were upset due to something else or had simply had a bad day reacted significantly less negatively than those without this chance.

By reframing asshole behavior as something that is not your fault, you can manage and handle insults or aggression more effectively and prevent your morale from becoming too low.

Rather than turning the situation into something negative and potentially damaging, finding a way to look at it positively will help you stay strong and focused.

How To Battle An Asshole: Strategize Your Confrontation To Achieve The Best Results

If you’re looking to go head-to-head with an asshole, it’s important to be prepared.

Before attempting any sort of confrontation, you’ll need to collect documentation of their past behavior and evaluate the best way to confront them.

Start by gathering information.

This could include a written record such as emails or notes, recordings of conversations or interactions, or talking to witnesses who have seen the person’s behavior firsthand.

The more evidence you have in your pocket before confronting them, the better prepared you will be if things get heated.

Once you’ve gathered your evidence, evaluate how best to confront the individual.

Do they respond well when communicated with directly? If so, a calm and rational confrontation is probably your best bet – gently voicing your concerns may help resolve the situation with minimal damage done.

However, if they tend not to respond well when addressed directly then consider taking a more aggressive approach; being somewhat uncooperative yourself may catch them off guard and make them back down.

No matter what strategy you ultimately decide on, having evidence at hand will ensure that both parties are treated fairly in any potential conflict – as was demonstrated when Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson was able to bring down powerful network head Roger Ailes by presenting recordings of over 18 months of their meetings that contained a multitude of inappropriate remarks

Be Self-Aware: Don’t Become An Unwitting Asshole


We all know that assholes exist, and although we’d like to avoid them whenever possible, it can be difficult to know who’s an asshole before they even make their mark.

And as the old joke goes, if you can’t spot the asshole in your group, then it might be you!

But coming to terms with (and ultimately accepting) your own a-hole tendencies is no easy feat.

In fact, research shows that only one percent of people admit to being an assholes – yet over 50 percent of Americans have reported experiencing persistent bullying.

This begs the question: how many unaware assholes are there out there?

To add to this difficulty of identifying our own asshole behaviors is the reality that power and wealth often bring out our worst side.

A study from UC Berkeley showed that drivers of the priciest cars were more likely to cut off other motorists or refuse to stop for pedestrians than those driving cheaper cars.

This proves that when we have more power than others, we’re prone to behave like assholes.

That’s why self awareness is so important.

Without it, not only could we be unknowingly making people’s lives harder but also damaging our own relationships with people too.

Being aware of our image in other people’s eyes allows us to be better individuals both personally and professionally – something very important for those who enjoy success and a position of authority within society.

So next time you find yourself in the position where you could potentially be playing the role of an unwitting asshole, take a moment and check in with yourself first before making any judgements – after all, nobody wants any regrets at their deathbed!

Wrap Up

The Asshole Survival Guide can be summed up by this takeaway: in order to protect yourself from the influence of assholes, you need to keep your distance, reframe their negative behavior, and be mindful of not turning into an asshole yourself!

Don’t allow yourself to become normalised with such behaviour.

If you want to test if someone is a self-absorbed asshole, ask yourself these questions:

•During a conversation do they allow you to get a word in edgewise?

•Is there a healthy ratio between statements and questions?

•Do they take any interest in what you’re saying?

If the answer is yes for all of them, then it’s likely that you have an asshole on your hands.

The key is to create as much distance as possible between yourself and this person and make sure you remember the actionable advice given throughout the guidebook so that you know how to handle such situations professionally.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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