It turns out I’m an a**hole.
This revelation was less than shocking for me. Up until the time I took the “Are you an A**hole?” test during Kevin Benz’s “No more A**holes in the Newsroom” session, I only had my suspicions. Now I know for sure.
“We can’t expect things to change if we don’t get help changing it,” Benz said. His presentation on newsroom jerks and how to handle them was based on the book written by Robert I. Sutton, PhD., “The No A**hole Rule.”
The book, and in turn the presentation, highlighted some of the key points about what newsroom bullies do and the poisonous environment that can corrupt the culture of any newsroom.
The focal point and greatest takeaway from the presentation was the “Are you an A**hole?” test with 23 true/false questions.
I scored a 12 out of 23, which makes me a “borderline certified a**hole” according to the test. Who knew?
While this might seem like a less than mature way to approach the subject, the issue of newsroom bullies is no joke. Benz said that having “a**holes” in the work place can add up to distractions and reduced productivity, absenteeism, legal costs and settlement fees.
Fresno State journalism student Tristan Lewis, who attended the breakout session, said the presentation taught him to think of others before speaking. He said it’s important to treat others the way you want to be treated.
“If you’re a jerk to them,” Lewis said, “They aren’t going to put out good work.”
“The No A**hole Rule” offers a few tips to deal with bullies in your newsroom. While the list is extensive, it boils down to communication: Let people speak freely, limit hierarchical terms, and always be satisfied with your work and the work of others.
As a “borderline certified a**hole,” I have a few things to work on.