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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The ridiculous and maddening world of the arrogant asshat: Learning to deal with difficult people

                                                                   " It's all about me!"

Lately I have the distinct feeling that there has been an arrogant asshat population explosion! They are all around us- in real life, on television, in cyberspace, and our own families. One thing is sure, if you have to deal with an arrogant asshat, your quality of life can be greatly altered. BUT the good news is, it doesn’t have to be.
“The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.” -  Albert Camus
Arrogance goes beyond being assertive, pushy, or even cocky. Arrogance is that over the top expectation a person has which causes them to act as if the world must bend to their opinion, will, and belief about everything, without question or hesitation. Whether the arrogant asshat in your life is male or female, young or old makes no difference. Dealing with that type of individual is truly one of the most unpleasant and frustrating situations in life.
Definition of ARROGANCE
: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions
The older I get, the less patience I have for arrogant asshats. Where do they get off thinking the world is going to bow to them? What causes a person to become so self-absorbed and full of themselves? Is it nature, nurture, or a combination of both? Is there an “asshat gene”?  Science was never my forte, but I suppose there could be arguments for both theories. All I know is that I have the ANTI-asshat gene.
“Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
I am currently struggling with some WORLD CLASS ARROGANT ASSHATS in my life. I am not about to allow my precious peace of mind and happiness be polluted by the toxic miasma they give off.
Life is too short to waste a minute of it fretting and obsessing over the attitudes and actions of others. Heaven knows I, and most everyone, have far better uses for my time and energy. My suggestion, and advice, for dealing with arrogant asshats is as follows:
1. IGNORE as best you can.
2. If ignoring fails, minimize contact, reactions, attention- because they do LOVE the attention.
3. Realize that most arrogant asshats are truly bitter, sad, miserable, lost souls. I am not saying you have to feel sorry for them, just know that is what usually fuels their arrogance.
4. NEVER let them see you sweat.
5. Living well is always the best revenge. Your happiness is the antidote to their power. If you let their arrogance and superior attitude beat you down- THEY WIN.
6. NEVER let an arrogant asshat win. EVER!
7. Pick your battles with arrogant asshats. They love to fight, don’t engage.
8. If you have to “fight”, don’t give up the moral high ground. Arrogant asshats love to drag others into their cesspool. It makes them feel righteous.
9. If you happen to be related to an arrogant asshat, do the best you can. We can’t pick our families, so it is important to develop great powers of detachment and a sense of humor.
10. LAUGH at them. Laughter can really help deflect their ridiculous pomposity and sense of entitlement. After all, it is truly absurd to be a spoiled three year old in the body of an adult.

A very good article on the topic was featured in the Washington Post in 2011, called The fine line between confidence and arrogance”.  Written by someone far smarter and more eloquent that I, I have highlighted the best advice from the piece:

If you find that you are guilty of some the behaviors above, rethink your approach and keep your ego in check:

Instead of bragging about your personal achievements, find a way to spotlight someone else’s work. Consider talking up team triumphs.
• During interviews or when interacting with a recruiter, be careful not to interrupt and listen carefully to the questions asked before responding.
• Transform your arrogance into self-confidence by showing vulnerability — be willing to share past mistakes, limitations and fears.
• Be humble.

• Have the courage to discuss opposing ideas without being judgmental.
• Seek out learning partners and trusted colleagues and ask them for honest feedback. Where do they perceive you along the confidence-arrogance continuum? If they say that you come across as haughty at times, learn which behaviors give this impression.

• Finally, understand how confidence is expressed in the culture in which you’re working (modesty is valued in many Asian cultures, so you’ll want to tone it down a bit when interacting with Japanese employers and colleagues).


  1. I absolutely agree with your pointers on dealing with these people - particularly the ones around non-engagement. The only way these AAs actually thrive is through creating in a reaction in another party, which validates their sense of superiority (and undoubtedly satisfies the mewling cries of insecurity within them). Do NOT react: it's the key to sanity.

    Great post!

  2. Luckily I am taller than most asshats. It puts me in a commanding position for the verbal exchange. I usually ask them if they believe they will accomplish whatever task is the issue. When they say yes, I say "Good luck with that." When they are giving me their opinion about what they think I should do I respond with: "I will take that under advisement." My children learned that the advisement response to their demands meant that they would be dissapointed. From 7 to 47 years of age, all children hate dissapointment.