You ever spend a day doing something (like apple picking with your girlfriend), and when its all over, think to yourself, “Man, what a waste of a day?”. Now, imagine having that feeling about an entire decade.
If I was Robert Sutton, a professor of organizational behavior and engineering at Stanford University, that exactly how I’d feel after I just spent 10 years studying a**holes. For his book, “The A**hole Survival Guide”, Sutton spent more than 10 years of his career “deciphering the a**hole and the havoc they can cause for people”, in an effort to figure out the best methods to avoid them.
This isn’t Sutton’s first foray into studying a**holes, as his first book, “The No A**hole Rule”, was published in 2007.
Speaking to The Daily Mail, Sutton explained his obsession with a**holes and why he’s spent so much of his career studying them. The most interesting part of the discussion, though, was when Sutton revealed his four different types of a**holes: the Machiavellian, the Backstabber, the Purposefully Obvious, and the Clueless A**hole.
via Daily Mail:
1. THE MACHIAVELLIAN
Machiavellianism in modern psychology is someone that is focused on self-interest and personal gain. These people take pleasure in someone’s else’s pain as it helps them reach their own goals in life.
Sutton described this person as nasty to a person’s face and not afraid to show that behavior.The Machiavellian type doesn’t hide from their a**hole behavior. Instead, they embrace it because they think it is what is helping get them to where they want to be.
2. THE BACKSTABBER
The Backstabber is more strategic about how they are an a**hole to others because they don’t always want to be portrayed as one. Sutton said the backstabbers can be the most dangerous because they pretend they are on your side for as long as possible before they no longer need you.
“They are more strategically competent a**holes. They kiss up and knock down people around them,” Sutton said.
3. THE PURPOSEFULLY OBLIVIOUS
This person acts as if they don’t know someone when they actually do. Instead of acknowledging a person, they will pretend they have no idea who they are in order to belittle them as much as possible.
This type of a**hole might not think they are being one because they aren’t saying anything, but their lack of acknowledgment speaks volumes. Sutton explained that power can make people feel like they are above others and therefore think they are allowed to behave this way.
4. THE CLUELESS A**HOLE
This person doesn’t even realize they are acting horrible to someone unless it is pointed out to them. Sutton said it’s best for people to surround themselves with those who are not afraid to tell them if they are acting like an a**hole.
But most importantly, it is on each and every person to recognize their own actions and how it can be perceived by others.
The rest of the article delves into how a**holes have learned how to thrive in the workplace and how to avoid said a**holes, and while interesting, all Sutton had to do was spend 20 minutes with my ex-girlfriend and he would have learned everything he needed to know.