The No Asshole Rule | Robert I. Sutton

Summary of: The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t
By: Robert I. Sutton


In the book ‘The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t’, Robert I. Sutton underscores the damaging consequences of allowing toxic behavior in the workplace. The summary will delve into the negative impact of assholes on employee morale and productivity while highlighting the benefits of implementing the No Asshole Rule. As you read through, you will gain insights on how to reduce social distance and promote cooperation in the workplace, recognize the contagious nature of toxic behavior, and learn strategies to maintain emotional distance from workplace assholes. Sutton’s book emphasizes creating a more harmonious and productive work environment, urging the readers to adopt and practice the No Asshole Rule in their professional and personal lives.

Assholes in the Workplace

Many workplaces tolerate bad behavior, but this can have a detrimental effect on employee morale. Low morale leads to high staff turnover, increased sick leave, and reduced productivity. Assholes in positions of power are particularly damaging, creating a fearful and unproductive atmosphere. Tolerating bad behavior is a costly mistake for any business, as top employees will leave for a more respectful work environment.

No Asshole Rule

The best companies apply the “No Asshole Rule” to everyone from employees to customers. They choose to weed out individuals who are brilliant but toxic to the morale of their organization. The rule is simple: employees should always be treated with respect, regardless of their abilities, and customers who mistreat staff should be blacklisted. This philosophy creates a positive and healthy work environment that encourages employee loyalty and high morale. The “No Asshole Rule” should be made known to everyone in the company and extended beyond its walls, much like Google’s slogan, “Don’t be evil.”

The Dark Side of Higher Status

Studies show that higher-status individuals tend to behave like assholes, taking what they want without considering others and seeing them only as means to an end. This behavior is also observed in the business world where lower-ranking employees are often treated disrespectfully. To address this problem, businesses should reduce the social distance between employees by keeping wage differences as narrow as possible, which can lead to more respectful behavior between managers and subordinates. Ultimately, more equality equals fewer assholes.

The No Asshole Rule

In the business world, aggressive behavior is often associated with high status and resourcefulness. This can be explained by evolution, as the most aggressive member of a group would become the leader. However, this does not mean that being an asshole is a good idea for companies. Aggression and punishment do not motivate people as well as incentives and recognition. Furthermore, tolerating assholes drives away talented employees and lowers office morale. The best way to attract and keep top talent is to implement the “No Asshole Rule.” This rule ensures that companies promote positive management techniques and maintain a healthy workplace culture.

Co-operation or Competition?

Companies can become counterproductive when competition overrides their internal culture, leading to an uncivilized, unproductive workplace. While ambition and healthy competition can be beneficial, a culture of co-operation produces better results and a more civilized atmosphere. A company’s culture can be positively influenced by subtle changes in vocabulary, such as emphasizing co-operation, and using collective pronouns, which subconsciously remind employees that they are all on the same team. Companies should reward and acknowledge co-operation, instead of encouraging rivalries, which sap energy and create an unpleasant work environment. Employers should strive for a culture of co-operation over constant internal competition for a more productive and cultivated workplace.

Want to read the full book summary?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed