How to find out if we are an asshole?

I think it’s fair to say that we have all encountered assholes in our lives. And there are many books in the market that teach people how to deal with them, mostly colleagues in the workplace but they are applicable to life in general as well.

However, there seems to be a lack of books or lectures on how to identify if one himself is an asshole, which I think it’s rather important! After all, if one indeed is an asshole, he should probably spend time on learning how to use those books to deal with himself first rather than others. A complete change in context.

Sure, I have met many people who feel sorry about themselves and they often associate themselves as losers, unintelligent, unskilled, untalented, etc. but I have never seen people admit that they are a real asshole, at least not seriously anyway.

So how does one validate if himself is an asshole?

Alright, let’s start with asshole. According to the Oxford dictionary, apart from its literal meaning of a body part, it means “a stupid or unpleasant person”. I find this to be a bit empty to be honest. So, I go to another website which is much more authoritative on these types of things, urban dictionary, and it says, “an inconsiderate, arrogant, uncaring, selfish, borderline sadistic, apathetic, mean, spiteful, dishonourable, bastard of a man who could tempt the Pope into a fight.”

Wow, there is a lot to unpack here. Also, we have learned that the Brits are a very indirect/polite bunch.

Well, if someone is inconsiderate, arrogant, uncaring, selfish, sadistic, apathetic, mean spiteful, dishonourable (and I am sure we can all come up with even better descriptions), by definition, it would be impossible for that person to validate that he is one himself! He simply would not know.

How about asking others? I don’t know about you, but for me, I have never told an asshole directly that he is an asshole when I am being asked by him. I would have told him earlier in the first place. But of course, we can’t take silence as a formal piece of evidence to suggest that we are not an asshole. We need more scientific rigour.

If we can’t validate this through self-examination and peer review, what’s left?

So, I have come up with the following observations. Try them yourself!

  1. You feel like you can name more incompetent people than competent people.
  2. You feel like you have to take extra efforts at explaining things to people, both facts and your feelings.
  3. You get really angry when people don’t share your values/views.
  4. You feel like you are often being misunderstood.
  5. You feel like you don’t need to meet or interact with your best friends regularly.
  6. You go on to overseas trips often with people whom you are not that close with (or you want to ask what ‘close’ means).
  7. Your most common posts on social media are authoritative comments that you think most people fail to see.
  8. You feel like you are good at giving direct feedback. “Telling it like how it is” is a skill. You want people to grow with the best intentions.
  9. When you see someone fail at something, your first response is to provide some relevant explanations.
  10. You like to help young people by offering them great advice.
  11. When you see authoritative figures speak/post, your first response is, “that’s what I thought too”.
  12. You feel like people avoid eye contact or conversation with you.
  13. You get an awkward smile when you say something, and you get an awkward laugh when you crack a joke.
  14. You feel like people are taking unnecessary pause and deliberation when they talk to you.
  15. You don’t understand why some people always complain about their lives or behave the way they have behaved.
  16. You don’t recall when was the last time someone shared a personal story with you.
  17. You don’t recall when was the last time you said, “I’m sorry”.
  18. You don’t recall when was the last time you trusted someone.
  19. You don’t recall when was the last time you have studied into something.
  20. You don’t think you can/have ever be/been an asshole.

The truth is, we are all assholes at times (obviously some more frequent than others).

So let’s all be better!

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