Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Asshole’ Rule: Why Life’s Too Short To Work With Them

Anthony Bourdain

Have you ever turned down a project, job offer, or client just because you didn’t like them? If you haven’t, you’re not the only one.

It takes a lot of guts to turn down money. I remember one time at our family business; my dad refused to sell to a prospect. The team and I didn’t understand it. We thought: “They want to pay good money. Why not accept it?”

“Because they are assholes,” my dad said.

Fair play, I thought. The truth is that it was way more complicated than that. My dad had worked with that company before in the past. And he also knew others who worked with them. Apparently, they were a “supplier hopper.”

You have that type of client in every single industry. The other day I was talking to our accountant about those same types of people. He mentioned they recently had fired a client because they behaved like assholes. The client they fired had a pretty bad reputation too. They have had numerous accountants in the past.

So it’s not uncommon for people to turn down business deals, jobs, or money, just because they don’t want to work with the other party.

But I must be honest, it took me years to get used to the idea that you can fire clients, bosses, friends, or anyone who’s an asshole.

Don’t Accept Rude Behavior

My goal is to be kind, but also be firm. I wasn’t always like this. In the past, I was way too tolerant. But I’ve learned that you don’t have to be that way to assholes.

Recently, a lady tried to buy one of my online courses. By now, I’ve hundreds of online courses for people from all over the world. And I take it very seriously. Everything is taken care of and I only use the best and safest services to host my courses.

The lady’s credit card was declined. I don’t know why. Maybe she entered the wrong information. Maybe it was a mistake from the firm that processes credit card payments. It doesn’t really matter.

We’re dealing with technology—sometimes it fails. Nothing’s perfect. And if something doesn’t work, people email me, and I always help them.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, she emailed me not to ask for help, but to call me a fraud. She was disappointed in me and called me some other stuff too.

How is it my fault that her credit card was declined? I use a service provided by other companies. Instead of emailing me and asking what’s going on and if I could help her, she went into full attack mode.

I emailed her back and said it’s rude to accuse people like it’s nothing. So I deleted her from my email list because I don’t accept rude behavior. Neither should you.

The No Asshole Rule

Anthony Bourdain recently mentioned his “no asshole” rule in an interview with GQ:

“It is truly a privilege to live by what I call the “no asshole” rule. I don’t do business with assholes. I don’t care how much money they are offering me, or what project. Life is too short. Quality of life is important. I’m fortunate to collaborate with a lot of people who I respect and like, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

The “no asshole” rule. I love it. I had never heard a name for it, so when I read the interview with Anthony Bourdain, who also happens to be one of my favorite TV people of all time, I thought it was a great phrase.

Make your life easier and get rid of all the assholes. Like Bourdain says, life is way too short for dealing with people who don’t respect you. It doesn’t make you selfish. If other people decide to be assholes, that’s up to them.

Also, the world is full of wonderful people. Isn’t it much better to say goodbye to assholes and give your time to the great folks? Idealists probably think you can change assholes. But again, life’s too short for that. Plus, people don’t change unless they want to.

If we collectively say goodbye to all the assholes, I bet that the world would be a lot nicer. Maybe they can form a colony on Mars or some other planet that Elon Musk will fly to with his cool rockets.

Obviously, that’s not going to happen. But at least we can get rid of the assholes in our own lives. That’s not only possible. It’s a must.

P.S. António, a reader of the blog, made me aware that there’s also a book called The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton. I’ve added it to my reading list.

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