The A**hole Exponential

Your boss is an a**hole. So is the lady who works in accounting. Let’s not forget your landlord. He dumps on you despite the fact that you have never been late with your rent. And we can’t go without mentioning the millenial who works at the neighborhood coffee shop on Saturday morning.

We encounter a**holes everyday and in all areas of our lives. Some people just can’t help themselves. They build themselves up by deliberately tearing other people down with power trips and poor attitudes. Rude behavior is an attempt, conscious or not, to take away the personal power of another individual.

Tons of information exists on the effect of a**hole behavior, particulary in the workplace. Employee performance takes a dive, people are less helpful, and morale generally plummets. I still remember each situation where a boss exhibited extreme a**hole behavior with me: the time when a boss and I got into a shouting match because he said something inappropriate about someone and told me I better not “snitch” (sidenote – he was already being an a**hole, but the “snitch” comment pushed me past my tolerance for his a**holery). There was another time when, as a young human resources assistant, a manager dug into me for reasons I don’t even remember now. In each instance, I felt disrespected, abused, and powerless. This made me lash out angrily in return. In each instance, I was unable to focus on my work and I’m sure that my mood rubbed off on others who I encountered. In each situation, I was no longer productive until I could get past the incident. Rudeness has an impact on the bottom line.

This is what I call “The A**hole Exponential”. Bad behavior and shitty attitudes have a trickle-down effect on more than the person on the receiving end. An encounter with an a**hole not only brings you down and negatively impacts your performance, but you pass the stink along to those around you. And so on and so on…

A**hole behavior doesn’t have to be demoralizing. How we choose to handle or respond to the negativity determines whether we lose power in the situation. Recognizing that rude behavior is not our problem, but the problem of the person who is behaving badly. We can let the a**hole know the effects of their behavior on us and those around us. The feedback may or may not change the behavior, but it is important for the person to know that they are behaving poorly and it isn’t acceptable.

Some people may not realize that they are being a**holes and the correction is appreciated. Others people may not care that they are being rude. The important thing to remember is that you can control how someone’s a**hole behavior is affect you, thus keeping you from passing the poison pill to someone else.

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