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Martina M. Cartwright
Martina M. Cartwright Ph.D., R.D.

Life is Too Short to Deal with A-Holes

Recognizing life’s bullies and how to cope.

A-holes. We all know one and sometimew we can be one. But what about those who are chronically selfish and inconsiderate? How should they be handled? Dealing with bullies as children or adults is never easy. Here are a few tips for recognizing Chronic A-holism and what to do about it:

Chronic selfishness. We are all selfish at sometime, but those who are regularly inconsiderate of others feelings or those who show little compassion are probably the narcissistic type of a-hole. Their favorite tune is “Me, me,me” and they have little interest in changing. They expect OTHERS to change to accommodate their selfish behaviors and blame others for not complying with their wishes. If someone is trying to lose weight, for example, they ignore their dieting friend’s needs and order the triple chocolate sundae. Some are also chronic butt kissers. Disingenuous liars, they are masters in corporate speak to superiors but dismiss colleagues or team members in order to climb the ladder. They cover up mistakes and bad behaviors with condescending “team building” communications that disguise their own selfishness. Assertiveness and calling them on their behavior will temper the selfishness but it likely will not go away completely.
Bullying Behaviors: Most major league A-holes are chronic bullies. We’ve all encountered them in school and now, as adults, we see them working their magic at work. They are quick to blame others when they don’t get their own way and because they are intimidating, they discourage others from speaking up in meetings or silence those striving for leadership positions. They are quick to criticize everyone’s work but their own but try to make it look like they are the “team players” or the cooperative ones. A-holes are bad for business; they ruin effective communication. A sure sign of a chronic business A-hole is a person who is detested by customers. In the health field, these are the significant others or families who try to sabotage a patient’s weight loss and are quick to criticize dietary lapses. To stand up to them, quickly address and disregard their comments. They are malicious and there is nothing you can do to change them.
Wimpishness: The opposite of being a bully, chronic A-holes can be total wimps. They don’t defend or support their colleagues or staff; they sit there and make statements like “you will just have to work it out with INSERT A-HOLES NAME HERE.” Translation: “I recognize there is a problem, but I’m not going to do anything about it because I want to advance without problems…and you are creating a problem by bringing the bully to my attention.” Wimps like bullies will not change. You can talk to them, be assertive and try to explain the problem but in the end you may have to go above their heads (which is probably easy) to get action.
The “Do What I Say, Not As I Do” A-hole: They give directives, and then sell you out. Others view them as saints, but secretly they are selfish, narcissistic jerks that have most people fooled. Charming and committed to climbing the social or corporate ladders, they parrot lines people want to hear like “integrity, honesty etc.” However, they are probably the least honest people you will meet. And when you own up to a mistake, they gain joy in punishing you. I’ve seen this happen many times in corporate, in order to protect themselves, the corporate A-hole says the right thing and then punishes the “offender.” To deal with them, document the behaviors—yours and theirs—and consider a different environment.
Laziness: The lazy type of A-hole is endemic in work and school. This type of person is enabled by those around him or her to do nothing…I meant nothing. Loud complaining about “to do” tasks distracts from the real issue…they don’t want to do anything or afraid to admit they are in over their heads. They are unmotivated, uncommitted and unmoved by the fact that those around them consider their behaviors selfish and incompetent. They don’t care and probably never will unless the gravy train is cut off. In school, these are the people on the homework project team that contribute nothing. At work, these are the people that bring nothing to the table. The Lazy A-hole chronically misses deadlines, assignments, and loudly criticizes other’s work. They push work on others at the last minute and try to blame everyone else for the “communication problem.” To manage them, document their behavior and report it. In school the instructor will likely grade them poorly. At work, they will be seen as a problem and receive poor performance ….unless your boss is a Wimpish A-hole and then you are in trouble.

By the way, being a Chronic A-hole affects genders and all races, creeds, socio economic classes, etc. However, there are differences in how others perceive the chronic condition. For men, some take pride in being a colossal A-hole, for women, they may often be labeled as emotional bitches. Most emotionally savvy people can quickly tell the difference between chronic vs. temporary A-holism vs. responsive A-holism, a condition that manifests when a good person is confronted with another’s chronic A-hole behavior and becomes a temporary A-hole themselves.

A-holes are everywhere and we all have our moments, but Chronic A-holes are a problem. They make the lives of those around them miserable. If you can’t manage them by calling them on their behaviors, consider leaving them. Quit your job, leave your partner, limit your interactions with A-hole family members…your health depends on it! Life is too short to deal with A-holes!

Dealing with A-holes
About the Author
Martina M. Cartwright

Martina M. Cartwright, Ph.D., R.D., is an adjunct professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona and an independent biomedical consultant.

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