Friday, November 03, 2006

Book offers advice on "Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't"

Building a civilized workplaceSince this blog goes a long way in defining my online persona, I generally take care in what I say and how I say it. As a mediator who pays close attention to language and communication, I know how much words matter.

However, the following post requires me to use a word that your mother would wash your mouth out with soap for saying. If foul language offends you, then I will not be offended if you would prefer to skip over this post.


Every workplace has one--often several. They are a radioactive source of conflict, negativity, and stress. Chances are you've worked alongside one. In fact, on occasion in our lives, if we're truly honest with ourselves, we've been one.

I'm talking about the subject of the latest book by Bob Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering in the Stanford Engineering School, and Co-Director of the Center for Work, Technology, and Organization. Coming out in February 2007 is The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, a book that offers advice on understanding, neutralizing, and inoculating your workplace against this workplace scourge.

If you're wondering why Sutton put the "A" word in the title of his new book, it wasn't due to lack of imagination or vocabulary. In Sutton's view, as he explains on his blog, "asshole" carries a visceral clout no other word can:

... no other word works as well for describing these demeaning and mean-spirited people. …when I tangle with [a] nasty person, I don’t think "what a jerk" or "what an abusive person." The first thing that comes to mind is "what an asshole." That is also the word that nearly everyone I know uses to describe these creeps, even though they may later censor it…
That certainly resonated with me, and probably with any mediator who has ever dealt with workplace conflict. It undoubtedly resonates with anyone who has ever held a job.

Especially in a workplace filled, with, well, you know who.