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The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  6,382 ratings  ·  742 reviews
The No Asshole Rule is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Business Week bestseller. It has been nominated for a Quill Award as the top business book of 2007, and was recently chosen as one of's top picks as well.
Kindle Edition, 189 pages
Published February 22nd 2007 by Business Plus (first published 2000)
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 ·  6,382 ratings  ·  742 reviews

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Start your review of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: corporate drones
Shelves: business-work
I bought this because I thought I worked with assholes. (Well -- that, and a few others had enjoyed reading it.) I discovered that I work with garden-variety assholes, not certified ("flaming") assholes -- though I have in the past. Note that the author is an academic and wanted to enforce the "no asshole" rule in his own department. This doesn't just apply to corporate settings.

The real revelation he gives is what he calls "total cost of asshole ownership". This insight alone will land the book
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: burnit
What a disappointment. This book should have written itself: who can't write a good book about assholes? The world is full of them, and Sutton's biggest problem should have been trying to sift through an inexhaustable supply of good stuff and funny bits. Instead we get a boring, humorless collection of basic psychology principles, statistics, and common sense. Entire pages are devoted to mindless recitations of research findings and statistics. The anecdotes are boring and focus around a very ...more
Nov 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've referenced this before but will again. Long ago, I read a particularly stupid chick lit book which would be entirely unmemorable except for one line that stayed with me. Our heroine, contemplating life, muses about the following question: Do jerks look in the mirror and know they're jerks?

This question has come up for me a lot in general, and was particularly relevant as I read this book. I sought this book out after reading this article forwarded by my cousin, which I found insightful and
Kim Bailey
Jan 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Perhaps this information was a little more relevant and a lot less obvious when the book was written? (copywright is 2007) But I found most of the information to be quite dry. It's mostly common sense, in my opinion. Assholes are assholes ... in or out of the workplace. And no matter how you catagorize them, they have an impact on everyone around them ... if you're a human being and NOT an asshole, I'm pretty sure you've experienced this ... heck, I'm certain most assholes have experienced ...more
Jeff Yoak
This book seriously rubbed me the wrong way. The author does a little initial work useful in being precise about what he means by "assholes" and offers the rather trivial conclusion that we shouldn't be one, hire them or tolerate them. The rest amounts to foot-stomping at best and bewilderment at worst. Assholes give people the "silent treatment" but in response we should "talk to them as little as possible." Retaliatory behavior as bad or worse than the initial "asshole" behavior is advocated ...more
Caroline Gordon
Anyone living the corporate life should read this book. It's as much about not becoming an asshole yourself as dealing with the ones around you, which is important because the best of us can be reduced to bad behaviour in the wrong environment.
But - I know you really just want the quick story, how do you survive the assholes at work - my choice bits of advice are:
- pick your workplace carefully, try to not to join in the first place if the assholes rule
- if you got it wrong, get out as soon as
Apr 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has to work with people
Shelves: business
From this book, I learned how to identify a**hole behavior in others and in myself. Sutton's book is a remarkable and frank exploration of how a**hole behavior can destroy organization, and a reminder that such behavior should not be tolerated anywhere. Sutton's blog, [], should be a must-read for everyone who works in any organization.
Stacey Camp
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
**5 Goodreads Stars**

Have you ever worked at a place where a person or group of people sucked the life out of you, bullied you, or tormented you? Have you ever had a colleague corner you, explode at a meeting, or yell at other employees? If so, Dr. Robert Sutton's The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't provides some solid advice on how to manage workplace bullies, or, in his own words, "assholes."

This book is bursting with data on how assholes affect a
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work
If the title really offends you, the book will only get worse. With that said, we've all worked with people that are jerks. This book gives some insights into how to deal with them. Miscellaneous notes:

Dirty dozen
• personal insults
• invading one's personal territory
• uninvited physical contact
• threats and intimidation (verbal, non-verbal)
• sarcastic jokes, teasing
• withering email flames
• status slaps
• public shaming
• rude interruptions
• two faced attacks
• dirty looks
• treating people as if
Rod Hilton
Jul 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I heard about "The No Asshole Rule" in a technical conference talk about building out an engineering team. The notion of the book struck me as simultaneously obvious and groundbreaking. The basic premise is this: we all know that it sucks to work with assholes, so let's not beat around the bush and actually formulate an official company policy to not hire assholes.

It made me think back to so many interviews I've done with various candidates over the years, and the pow-wow meetings after where we
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
DNF at ~50%, pretty lacklustre with not much depth of analysis or any consistent theoretical framework.
Very meh, but well-intentioned, so 3/5.
Steven Shaw
There are a lot of assholes out there. I've run into a few more than my fair share — it seems to be par for the course when you're a contract programmer. Assholes make people feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energised and belittled. They tend to target their behaviour on those that are less powerful — so assholes in management have a larger area of destruction.

These assholes can poison your whole organisation, leading to a culture of fear, lower productivity, high staff turnover, general
Sean O
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lets say that you're being exposed to a bullying asshole. Everywhere you turn, you see this clown, and the things he says makes you sad and depressed and ineffective.

Sound familiar?

This book is about that guy. How to identify him (easy), how to limit him (hard), how to see it in yourself (harder), and how to deal with it when you can't do anything about it (hardest.)

Basically being an asshole is five times harder on everyone else. Do yourself a favor and get rid of the asshole.

Recommended to
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I’ve somehow found myself in management, and I’m trying to figure out how to do it. This book came well recommended. Heavy on the “don’t hire assholes.” A little light on survival strategies when they are there already. Among this book’s bits:

1. Proposes two tests for determining if someone is an asshole:

Test One: After talking to the alleged asshole, does the ‘target’ feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or belittled by the person? In particular, does the target feel worse about him or
Angela Risner
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book about 2 years ago when I was tasked with buying some behavioral training books for a group event. I saw the title and knew exactly the person who deserved it the most. But I also knew that the person would only be offended and not learn anything.

I was reminded of the title recently by another event and decided to finally read it. And I’m so glad that I did!

The book is a very easy read, filled with stories about, well, assholes. I don’t think that I need to define what an
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: managers, leaders, employees
Shelves: business
Leading with the title, Sutton’s style is forthright, to the point – honest. Don’t let this fool you into thinking the book is filled with crassness or undocumented rants. In fact, the rules listed are concrete, well researched and documented. Sutton references case studies from companies of all sizes including Disney and Intel. He includes facts from research studies on bullying and its affects on people in both childhood and workplace environments. In addition he keeps the tone personal with ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Dude. Seriously. Wicked disappointed. Quite frankly this just made me mad. I mostly picked this out up for the chapter "Tips For Surviving Nasty People and Workspaces." and it was terrible. terrible.
the advice is:
- reframe the nasty behavior, thinking of it in a different way making it more positive
-become emotionally detached and indifferent
- hope for the best, expect the worst
-lower your expectations
-pick your battles
-bide your time and get revenge (seriously. page 149) !!
I'm sorry,
Not very impressed with this one. It came highly recommended, but I found it shallow, skating by on the shock value its author believes his choice of vocabulary has. I kept waiting for the part where Sutton dished out all the good advice he was promising, and could hardly believe it when I realized the book was ending, it having offered so little.

Here's the advice: You're probably a jerk sometimes even though you think you aren't, and you should stop. When the problem is someone else, try to
Cheshire Public Library
The summary of this book says it is, “a business handbook on preventing and curing a negative work environment that explains how to restore civility to the workplace by weeding out problem employees in order to increase profit and productivity.”

But, oh, it is so much more.

How bad can working with, living with, and having toxic jerks in your life be? Consider some of these stats from the book:

Studies show that having just one chronic jerk in a workplace can diminish performance of the entire
Mete Rodoper
Author Dr. Robert Sutton defines the asshole character and tells the readers what this character can do to the teams and organizations. As per the author, these persons may damage the motivation of the individuals in a team and this may in return lead to higher turnovers and also damage the balance sheets. To avoid various kinds of damage he suggests a few ways to apply the no asshole rule at various levels of an organization. In the worst case, if the individual or the organization or the team ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book started out so well and turned into a serious disappointment.
Two stars for addressing an important topic and for the opening vignette, but that's it.

Dr. Sutton starts the book with a story from his own experience as a young professor with very poor teaching skills. He worked very hard to improve and was proud to win a student-voted teaching award three years later. A senior colleague denigrates these efforts with a carefully placed dagger, letting him know that this was trivial and
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My boss is having most of the people in our department read this, so this was actually a work assignment. It's a quick read and has some good tips, but the larger messages I found were:

- I liked his definition of a certified asshole (as opposed to someone who is just being an asshole in the moment) and his caution to not just label people an asshole based on one interaction.
- He pointed out repeatedly that per research, one negative situation in the workplace has the weight of *five* positive
Sarah Souther
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Ten years later, this book is even more relevant. It's sadly obvious that we can't always rely on organizations to ensure their employees are treating each other with respect. In too many cases, we can't even rely on them to notice or stop a range of behaviors that range from subtlety demeaning to outright assault.

Its too much to expect a business to be moral, but one would think they would do it for the bottom line. Sutton points out that money is lost due to poor communication (avoiding
Tony Boyles
Jun 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is weird. It's a management-level perspective on why bullying is bad and how you can build a workplace that doesn't have it. But the advice is effectively "Stand up to them" or "Fire them". For someone who is in a position to fire a bully not to makes them morally culpable for the bully's behavior, which is generally fine with the manager because /they're the bully/. For someone below them to stand up to them is to invite retaliation and amplified hostilities, unless they're in a workplace ...more
Ryan Rodriquez
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Assholes; everyone has worked with one. You know one when you see one. But, how do you define it? And not only that, how can you battle being overrun by them within your organization?

Robert I. Sutton, PhD gives astounding examples of people behaving like assholes within their organizations. They do this for a multitude of reasons which Sutton explains. He also provides a self-test to see where you may fall on the asshole scale. And he provides some unconventional approaches to dealing with
Miriam T
Vacillating between 2 and 3 stars, because it was written more than 10 years ago so I think it deserves to be viewed in that lens. This book has a really interesting premise: a mix of business, self-care, and humor, Sutton sets out to explain how and why we have assholes at work and what we can do to mitigate. He really tried in his structure to not be a boring book of just prescriptive prose (including check-lists and stuff) which I really appreciated but then so much of each chapter was just ...more
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having been one, and having dealt with hundreds, this book was a perfect combination of comeuppance, how to avoid being one, and how to deal with the ones around you. Thank you for enlightening background about and excellent advice for dealing with assholes. I want to hand our copies but would rather not deal with those repercussions from the certified assholes I have to deal with on a regular basis! Taking Sutton’s advice on that.
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great philosophy for workplaces. But I think Sutton missed an opportunity to turn into a self-help franchise. It was WIDE application to every day life. And probably best the advice for manners... straight golden rule - don't be an asshole. Well written, great examples, you can tell he's besties with Pfeffer with his "no-nonsense" writing. But he's a touch kinder than Pfeffer. Slight dip into some big psychological concepts.
Matt Christopher
Excellent book on the impact of bullying within any organization
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Robert Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford and a Professor of Organizational Behavior, by courtesy, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Sutton studies innovation, leaders and bosses, evidence-based management, the links between knowledge and organizational action, and workplace civility. Sutton’s books include Weird Ideas That Work: 11 Practices for ...more
“the difference between how a person treats the powerless versus the powerful is as good a measure of human character as I know.” 10 likes
“As much as I believe in tolerance and fairness, I have never lost a wink of sleep about being unapologetically intolerant of anyone who refuses to show respect for those around them.” 9 likes
More quotes…