Book review: Assholes - A Theory

Emma De Vita reviews the new book by Aaron James

Assholes - A Theory
Assholes - A Theory

The word 'asshole' has probably never graced the pages of Third Sector before - but, as every office contains at least a handful of them, Aaron James's book Assholes: A Theory, is worth considering. James is a philosopher and has found evidence in different workplaces to support his theory. He defines an 'asshole' as (usually) a man "who systematically allows himself advantages in social relationships out of an entrenched and mistaken sense of entitlement that immunises him against the complaints of other people".

If you find yourself stuck with an asshole for a boss or a colleague, there is a way to manage them - but first you will need to accept that they probably won't listen to any criticism or change as a result of it. Also, you will have to remind yourself that it's not your fault when an 'asshole' boss treats you badly. Don't get angry. Instead, spend energy telling him in a polite way how you would prefer to be treated. It is always best to cooperate - but if things get too much, perhaps a small protest can be staged. For instance, if he has made a rude joke, you might make a cutting remark at his expense. But remember: the goal is not war, but a civil peace.

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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