Hi all,

 

I've posted my thoughts and questions on my ADRHub blog, which can be read at http://adrhub.com/profiles/blogs/book-club-commentary.

 

But here is the copy/paste of that blog entry for your convenience:

 

So far, we have only discussed Chapters 1-2, but it's a very book with very poignant ideas. So far the author, Robert Sutton, has introduced us to his test for spotting an ***hole: (1) Does the target feel oppressed/belittled after talking with the alleged ***hole and (2) Does the alleged ***hole aim his aggression at people who are positions less powerful than he/she (Sutton 2007, 9). As has been discussed so far in the book club, we have all been around people who easily pass both prongs of this test. Sutton doesn't think that "bully" or "jerk" quite encapsulates the same meaning as ***hole; however, I'm not a fan of using the "A" word repeatedly, so I think I will just adopt "jerk" for my discussion. 

 

One discussion thread asks if this is a good test or if there is anything we would add/change. I think it's an accurate test. Dealing with jerks does have physical, emotional, and psychological affects on others. Therefore, assessing the "lingering" effects/feelings after interacting with the jerk is a good start to the test. The second prong I feel is the obvious way to spot the jerk. It's what we expect - the big guy going after the little guy. Stereotyping the person at the "top" as being aggressive, evil-spirited, etc. However, there is probably a subtler method to the jerk's actions that may escape this second prong. I wouldn't necessarily change or alter this prong, because it does help spot one. And I'm not sure what I would add to cover those instances where it's unclear as to whom the jerk is "directing his venom" towards. It's a good test to start some discussion going in the workplace.

 

One portion of Chapter 2 that really surprised me was Sutton's discussion about medical errors committed by nurses. (Sutton 39-40). He was discussing another scholar's research project where she evaluated how many mistakes were committed by nurses. She had hypothesized that those under poor leadership (i.e. jerks) would make the most errors. Surprisingly, her research proved otherwise - it was those under the best leadership that reported the most errors. The primary explanation for this was that those nurses were not afraid to report the errors. I also believed the results may be the product of nurses trying harder and actually making fewer mistakes so they have fewer interactions with the jerk and one less reason to be subjected to his/her venom. How tragic that those under "jerky" leadership will often look out for only themselves, even with innocent lives are at stake.

 

Interestingly (Unfortunately?) enough, as I read the book I kept picturing males in these ***hole positions. However, this is obviously not the case, which I know firsthand. I've seen both male and female ***holes in the workplace - why is the male image my default? It also made me wonder about what this means for women in leadership roles. Are they thought of as "***holes" or does another label follow their actions (the b-word maybe?). And if another label is used, how does the analysis change? Can all these labels be equated? Can an asshole = bitch? I haven't heard a man be called the b-word so I'm not sure whether or not those labels are interchangeable. And here we have a book about how to spot and deal with assholes...can we just apply this to both sexes or do more considerations about gender differences in management style need to be addressed? I don't know the answer to any of these questions so any thoughts would be helpful.

 

Furthermore, Sutton's addressing how to deal with jerks in the workplace, but do these ideas apply throughout society? Is it different because in workplace we often have to work directly with the jerks where as in personal life we can choose to avoid them? Are people who act like ***holes at work ***holes in personal life? If so, how do they survive?

 

Sutton's argument is that jerks drain workplace resources of all types and on all levels. I totally agree with this. I'm intrigued to see how he comes out on the issue and whether he provides any concrete methods for appropriately dealing with ***holes when coming across one. And I hope he addresses how to deal with them from all levels. It may be helpful to get some coping ideas for upper management (i.e. send them to anger-management, fire them, etc.) but what about the immediate coping skills for those who encounter the jerk? What can they do during and immediately after the encounter that will not result in depleted feelings/resources that Sutton is seeing? Is it the workplace's responsibility to arm its employees with coping mechanisms or should they insure a no-***hole workplace in the first place?

 

Views: 34

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Nicole.

 

You make some excellent points, especially in regards to how these people drain workplace resources of all types. My question (to you or anyone who wants to answer) do you see a type of role for our field in organizations? If so, how would envision this happening? Is it happening now?

 

Lynsee

Lynsee,

 

I think a (pro-active) ombuds could help in these situations.  Also, finding a high-level executive who be a "champion" of positive communication can help too :) .... that is assuming the high-level is not the *sshole!

I can see how an ombuds can help but I think that the idea of the high level executive can help even more.  I feel that when you have excellence in leadership that sets an example of personal conduct and performance that it makes the entire team and company better.  When you have to involve the ombudsmen in the mix you can cause alienation among the other workers and this can lead to ostracizing, or the risk thereof.  

Jeff Thompson said:

Lynsee,

 

I think a (pro-active) ombuds could help in these situations.  Also, finding a high-level executive who be a "champion" of positive communication can help too :) .... that is assuming the high-level is not the *sshole!

When Sutton discussed the nurse's complaints and the errors I immediately could relate because I have worked in situations for a-holes who when you made an error it was the end of the world so you just covered it up and did your best to not error again.  I think that this type of behavior leads a lack of growth not only for the individual whom made the error but for the group who could learn valuable lessons from the error.  If we can learn from others mistakes we ca avoid them ourselves.
I agree. It's a lack of growth professionally and personally. It seems like hiding mistakes should be something we are encouraged NOT to do. Hiding mistakes seems like something grade schoolers would do, not grown adults trying to make headway in their careers. Feeling like you have to hide or watch you every move is so uncomfortable, especially for someone like me who tries to be very transparent in what I am doing. I like to communicate with people, update them on project status, get feedback, etc. Without those things I agree that many growth opportunities are missed.

Aspen Villanueva said:
When Sutton discussed the nurse's complaints and the errors I immediately could relate because I have worked in situations for a-holes who when you made an error it was the end of the world so you just covered it up and did your best to not error again.  I think that this type of behavior leads a lack of growth not only for the individual whom made the error but for the group who could learn valuable lessons from the error.  If we can learn from others mistakes we ca avoid them ourselves.

Hi Lynsee,

 

I thought about your question, and I actually don't know if there needs to be an official conflict resolution person in every organization to address these problems. One thing I have enjoyed most about my Werner classes is that they are law meets business meets psychology meets anthropology and so on. These skills are translatable and makes me valuable to an organization in resolving conflict even if I don't have a "Conflict Resolution Specialist" or "Ombudsperson" title.

 

Maybe people who go through conflict resolution programs are actually more useful as consultants rather than permanent employees. I could see many benefits of having a consultant with our skills come into a business for a temporary period of time, educate the workers, implement policies, etc. and then move onto the next organization. (Obviously continually following-up with each client to ensure they are headed in the right direction). Spread the wealth of conflict resolution skills we have learned. I see this as beneficial because it arms people with the tools THEY can use for THEMSELVES in resolving conflict rather than relying on someone else to fight the battle. It might be rough, but I believe it would benefit that person in the long run to develop the skills themselves.

 

And often when there is an HR person or Ombudsperson, employees go in to talk with those people, "vent", and then leave either convinced they can let the problem slide or that the HR person will take care of it. Handing off the responsibility like that might work...or it might not. Obviously "it depends" (ah, a classic phrase used by law students). But I think it would be beneficial for that person to have some basic skills they can use directly to solve the issue rather than constantly employing a third party to help you.


Lynsee Swisher said:

Hi Nicole.

 

You make some excellent points, especially in regards to how these people drain workplace resources of all types. My question (to you or anyone who wants to answer) do you see a type of role for our field in organizations? If so, how would envision this happening? Is it happening now?

 

Lynsee

RSS

@ADRHub Tweets

ADRHub is supported and maintained by the Negotiation & Conflict Resolution Program at Creighton University

Members

© 2019   Created by ADRhub.com - Creighton NCR.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service