Post Academic

Reading Gunn’s Golden Rules So You Don’t Have To: Why Tim Gunn and Bob Sutton Should Hang Out

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 11, 2010
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Like Bob Sutton, Tim Gunn is waging a verbal battle against assholes in the workplace. It would appear that, after stints in the fashion world and academia, Gunn has encountered more than his fair share of assholes. (You can go ahead and giggle at that joke, but it’s not like that. In fact, Gunn claims he’s celibate!)

After spending so much time with Betty Backstabbers and Debbie Downers, Gunn knows how to cope, and his advice is similar to that of Bob Sutton and David Yamada: Minimize all interaction with assholes, and get out as soon as you can. He writes,

The abuser could be your boss, and in a case like that you just need to try to keep your integrity, even as you’re being mistreated, and try to get out of the situation as soon as you possibly can.

In fact, Gunn applies the policy to his personal life as best he can, cutting out jerks whenever possible. In a story about a producer who treated Gunn and others like dirt on a TV set:

We got through it somehow. But I thought: I am never working for this man again. And I never have. One day my wonderful assistant told me, “I have your old boss on the line. He’s at Ralph Lauren and wants to buy you a suit?”

“Hang up on him,” I said.

Although Gunn often advises people to (and this will seem familiar) “take the high road,” this story shows that there are limits. The key to dealing with an asshole is to make sure they don’t break you. You can protect yourself in many ways, but it’s all up to you to improve your academic (or hamster!) workplace situation.

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