November 9th, 2012


Book Review: "The No Asshole Rule: Building A Civilized Workplace And Surviving One That Isn't"

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn'tThe No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't by Robert I. Sutton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I suspect that the the essay that was the basis for this book was a better read than the full book. I absolutely love the premise and the fact that it is important to build civilized workplaces. It is absolutely true that the working world is full of assholes, which really tends to make things suck. But once you establish that, and give some high level advice on how to avoid it, how to get away from it, and how to recognize it in yourself, there's not a lot of need for something deeper.

I was particularly happy that the author chose to use the word "asshole" instead of something less offensive like "bully." He describes why he did that, and how it was an intentional, important choice. Using that word is more forceful than a less offensive word, and tends to make the ideas presented carry more weight. For organizations that implement the rule, they are more likely to be successful with it if they call it the "asshole rule." He does use that word a lot. I listened to the audiobook version (read by the author), and by the time it was over, it didn't even register when he said it. So maybe he overdid it some -- again, I think the shorter essay was probably a more appropriate treatment.

It's a good rule to enforce at work. It's a good thing to keep in mind when examining yourself, to make sure that you're not the asshole. And if your workplace doesn't enforce it, it's a good thing to recognize, and to take steps to move on to a workplace that does. Unless you work for Apple, maybe.

It was a good listen, but I wouldn't recommend spending any money to listen to or read it yourself. Borrow a copy from the library if you want. Or search the web for a number of blog posts (some by the author) about the subject, and you'll be fine.

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