“Ugh, he’s such an asshole,” a friend sighed to me about a mutual acquaintance. I shrugged, and proceeded to explain my complicated relationship with some folks who I know are assholes, or selfish, or blowhards, or any other combination of qualities that can be disqualifying. “Yeah, but he’s consistently an asshole,” I replied, “so you know what you’re getting and he knows he’s an asshole.”
I’ve historically had a bit of tolerance for people who might not display all the character traits that I’d look for in a friend or colleague, but who are self-aware of how they act and predictable in their behavior (can you be a “dependable asshole?). While I might not invite these folks deeply into my life, I probably excommunicate them less frequently than I should. I’ve got an unspoken working agreement with the mild assholes in my life for when our paths do inevitably cross. Note that this is definitely more about transactional relationships with assholes than having them on my teams, etc.
But you know what two types of people I really struggle with? Weathervanes and Grin Fuckers. The former are people who change with the wind – the proclaim themselves champions of whatever idea is trendy at the time, or fall in line behind consensus. The latter are those who smile to your face passive aggressively and then trash you behind your back.
If I were to self-analyze, I think these two are triggering for me because they’re both forms of unpredictability and disingenuousness, which I can’t stand. And I rely on the people in my life to give honest feedback, tell me where they stand and not avoid productive conflict. So I struggle with those who are less able or less willing to default to that type of raw discussion and principles. And when I believe the lack of doing so (productive conflict based on principles) is malevolent, it’s rage-inducing.
Oh and by the way, if you think this post is about you, it’s probably not. But if it is, I’d tell you 🙂