My guiding principle is that life is too short, and my time is too valuable, to deal with difficult people. I will only do so if there is no other way, only when I simply must deal with them. And if this person is a long-term problem instead of a short-term one (think a boss or manager versus a store clerk or passer-by), I will usually try and change how I interact with said ass-hat rather than deal with them directly.
My theory is that you’re the average of the 5 to 10 people you spend the most time with. Many people inherently believe this, as your parents didn’t want you hanging out with “bad apples” because they knew that the more time you spent with them, the more conscience and sub-consciences influence that they would have with you. Given this assumption, that your friends influence you, you’d like to bring in people to your life such that they are a positive influence and help you reach your goals. This is true for your personal life, your career, your earnings, and how you make decisions. Your friends and co-workers help open up career opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Your professional network is extended and influenced by those strong ties that you spend the most time around. If you are too close to someone who is a known problem, that will rub off on you too.
I would also extend this to the online world. The people you interact the most with online, you are likely the average of those people. If the internet allows this group to be slightly large, maybe as large as 15, doesn’t change much, just dilutes the effect slightly. Your interactions on blogs, the sites you visit, the gossip you share, and the games you play, are all aspects of your group. If you were to take the average of the 10 most visited websites, what would that say about you? What would that site look like? What about the 10 people you spend the most time interacting and communicating with. Would you be proud to share this combined website? Would you introduce this online conglomeration of personalities to your closest friends?
This is such an important point, that I’ve added it to the System of Ritual Practices for Money.
If you take this into the land of websites and blogs, what are the 5 to 10 highest referring websites? Does this give you a good picture about your readers? Are they a group that interacts with you and with each other, or do they visit, read a page, and leave. How do you go about changing things to attract a better class or readers?
Given all the important aspects of life and money, you can see why I have a zero-tolerance policy for jerks. They affect all aspects of your life. They are detrimental to your happiness. They make life difficult. All the effects that they produce in you are transferred on to others. They react to this. The best people leave, and the time is filled by less desirable people.
Join me in having a zero-tolerance rule. Do what you can to make the remainder of your 2012 ass-hat free, and your life will be better off because of it.
Readers, what are your thoughts on jerks and assholes? Are you one? Do you know someone who is but you can’t get away from them? How do you deal with these people if you do?
Karl Nygard is the original founder of Cult of Money and created the website to share his ideas on investing, personal finance, and more.
“Ass hat” – I like that. But seriously, this is great advice. I actually never really thought of the people I spend the most time with being the average of me, so to say. But it makes a lot of sense. As well as with websites. I think my combined website might not be so bad, but it might not be that great either. Stuff for me to think about…
I definitely agree with this principal. Life is too short to waste time on those kinds of people. I pretty much avoid dealing with any bloggers who rub me the wrong way. Sure I could still try to take advantage of their traffic, but I’d rather not sacrifice my principals and expose myself to their attitude. When those ass-hats are in your physical workplace though, they’re a lot tougher to avoid. That is an area I need to learn to deal with better. I tend to let those people really get to me.
Yeah.. You will come across haters in all walks of life. The internet is no exception. And the relative anonymity that the internet provides, seems to empower the jerks even more.
I give everyone the benefit of the doubt before I know them, but if you prove to me that you are just a “mean person”, and some people certainly are.. then I will avoid you from then on.
Mean-spirited people are the worse. They drain your energy, produce negative karma, compromise your overall happiness. I never understand what makes some people think that it’s OK to be haters and just flat out rotten people. It just doesn’t make an ounce of sense to me.
As to Jefferson’s point, there are mean people on the Internet who hide behind anonymity. Quite frankly, I see these particular people as cowards.
In any case, everybody gets a chance with me to show how genuine and kind they are. If they show me otherwise, I’m gone for good. I don’t need the headaches.
I had a co-worker that was a jerk once. At first, I didn’t think I could take it. But as time went on, they actually became funny to me. I would laugh at how jaded they saw everything in the world and learned to laugh it off when they were rude to me. I’m like you, I don’t have time for them and make it point to not surround myself around those types of people.
I find there are a lot of self centered jerks out there. I try to stay clear of them.
There’s plenty of ass-clowns out there. Unfortunately, at work you don’t get a vote of who you can or can’t interact with. But I can and do employ some avoidance strategies to minimize contact with some particularly unpleasant little monkeys who like nothing better than to needle people.
Wow, after the hellish commute I just had, I really needed a laugh like this. Ass-hats and ass-clowns certainly helps 🙂
I will go out of my way to avoid/get rid of the ass-hats in my life by this point. To me, my sanity and generally sunny disposition is far more important than dealing with someone else’s negative BS. Of course, if it turns out that my boss is the ass-hat, then it takes some time to rid that headache from my life but I will certainly do so.
My rule is that if you can’t be polite than your not worth me time.
I’m happy that being self employed I get to pick who I spend most of my time with. Even when I owned my business I had a reputation for firing clients who were jerks. You’re right on: your life is way too short for that.
I’m a “relatively blunt fellow” but have only rarely been called a jerk. Each of those times it was from a very needy/selfish jerk who didn’t understand that I wasn’t going to agree with everything they said. For example, I recently freaked out (calmly) after someone tried to tell my almost-3yo son that one of his grandparents was “not nice,” asking this person to keep their opinions to herself and explaining that the grandparent was nothing but nice to us, that she could raise her kids however she wanted but to let me raise mine and that maybe she “gets what she gives.”
So yeah… I think I’m with you on “not standing” asses…
I like your theory about being the average of the company you keep. I’ll have to sit down and see who I am the average of… anyway, I hate jerks too. It’s a large reason why I ditched my so-called “best friend” in college and why I left my full-time job to work freelance.
I try to be nice to everyone, but sometimes I will punish someone who is a jerk to me.
I do some freelance editing on Fiverr.com Yesterday I received a query asking if I’d write and format a complex Table of Contents and Index. I replied “at this time I can only edit and proofread…” and even though I didn’t have to say any more, I gave a few suggestions on how she could do it herself.
She replied: “Dear, if I wanted to do this myself I would have done it already. I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell our company that we should do the work ourselves instead of hiring someone to do it for us. I find that to be disrespectful..”
Instead of ignoring her, my reply was this: what I find disrespectful is asking someone to do something they never advertised they would do, and then be rude to them when they politely decline. I told her that she obviously didn’t know how to read and guessed her company would soon be out of business, for good reason.
Why did I do that?
One of my first posts – “The Other One Percent (Who Will Punch You in the Face), talks about people who won’t take your stupid passive-aggressive b/s. They will just punch you in the face. I have a friend who inspired the story.
My conclusion was that by ignoring jerks and bullies, we are only empowering them to bully more people.
If you are strong and confident enough to push back against jerks, do it. You are only helping others down the line.
I used to work at a (I found out later, Scientologist-owned) office that was draconian about employees being in their desks at 8am and being at the office until 5pm. If you were late more than 3 times you were terminated. What I observed was that people were so scared of coming in late that they would arrive early. The owner would thus end up collecting extra work minutes from the employees, which of course were not compensated. I lasted about 9 months before being terminated for this. But I had the last laugh since years later the owner of the company ended up in prison for a number of years. My guess was that a disgruntled employee probably collected a dossier of all the illegal stuff that the owner was doing and went to the police with it. Incidentally, the company I worked for went bankrupt. The owner’s sordid deal that landed him in jail happened years later in a different state. I also noted that people in that company wasted a huge amount of time. That is one of the side effects of this kind of company culture. Yes, people will do it, you can find people who will work for you this way. But they will resent it and that resentment will come out in other ways. Yes you will gain 10-15 minutes of their time extra. But your going to lose far more because they will not lift a finger to be responsible. To give you an example that company went though $50K of office supplies a quarter, for 25 people. This was back in the 80’s. It was because nobody would do the least thing to be responsible – for example they had a duplexer on their main printer, but nobody would take the initative to use it, etc. etc.
I am a police dispatcher by trade and am pretty much forced to deal with jerks on the phone for about 12 hours during my shift. However, I will not entertain a jerk outside of my job. I don’t care for them and will have nothing to do with them. I always treat people the exact same way I want them to treat me. This doesn’t involve being a jerk to them.