• Assholes have certain traits that make them aggressive go-getters
  • Effective assholes that get shit done tend to be recognized and promoted
  • Adopt the good traits from an asshole to get ahead in your career too
It’s the moment of truth.

You’ve worked your fucking ass off every single day including the weekends to get this promotion.

You missed important moments with your family and friends knowing that this promotion will get you further ahead in life and give you better memories with them.

You know you have great working relationships with everybody and in fact, you’re known as the one who’ll let others take coffee before them. You even open doors for people. You’ve got office and cubicle etiquette down to a tee.

You also keep your head down, do your work diligently, and clock out when necessary. You always offer to stay late to get urgent requests done.

It’s with this knowledge that you arrive almost confidently to the meeting room for the promotion - you’re always ‘almost confident’ because you don’t want to give the impression that you’re arrogant.

So you’re seated and waiting for the meeting to start when Todd enters the room and your heart skips.

Todd is, well, the office asshole, in your opinion. He’s obnoxious, he likes to get his own way all the time, he’s rude to his colleagues but kisses ass to upper management, he’s all of these bad things.

But he’s also ruthlessly efficient and gets shit done.

Which is why he had the audacity to come later than everybody but still manage to keep a satisfied smile on his face. He also got to sit close to the execs while you and other colleagues sat at the back.

All these were telling and you were not surprised when it was announced that he got the promotion.

Your heart sinks with disappointment. You feel like you don’t get the recognition you fucking deserve.

What is it with assholes getting promoted?

Understanding Office Assholes & How They Work

We get it that you’re pissed off and a bit in awe, though grudgingly, of Todd and people like Todd who we refer to as assholes.

In reality though, all assholes may not really be assholes. Some may just have strong goals and wouldn’t want to mingle with others so that they’re not distracted, some go out of their way to be rude, and others are a mixture of both.

It's also a matter of perspective. Both parties may not want to see things from the other’s perspective and one believes that the other party is an asshole while the latter believes that the former is just jealous.

And yes, the rest of us have these moments too. We’re not all perfect. But we temper ours with repentance, self-control and self-awareness. No asshole will tell you they’re an asshole.

Here are some ways to spot assholes in the office. Mind you though, they may not have every single one of these qualities but they probably have a combination of several.

1) They’re Overly Ambitious

Most assholes are people who clawed their way up from the bottom. They never feel stuck at work. They’re the people with pure grit that makes them seem like assholes because they only see their goal and don’t care about anything or anybody that gets in their way.

They want what they want, when they want it and they're willing to sacrifice others for their goal.

But the most important thing for them is that they get the job done. To them, “the means justifies the end.”

2) They’re Incredibly Resourceful And Creative

Assholes are almost always go-getters. They keep their momentum even when things get fucking hard. They bring ideas to the table, whether they’ve asked for it or not.

However, whether these ideas are right or wrong becomes a different thing. Because they’re strong-willed (and assholey), they make it possible for their ideas to be put forward.

This research by the Journal of Business and Psychology explains that assholes’ ideas may not always be original but they are the most frequently used.

This is because they’re always ready to defend their ideas, original and stolen, and make sure it’s used. A lot of the time though, their ideas work because they’re efficient which makes it even worse for us to acknowledge.

3) They’re Bold And Courageous

You know how you know something’s not right but are too afraid to bring it up and so you can only grumble?

Well, assholes aren’t like that. They speak their mind. They have zero qualms about escalating issues at work to get shit done.

Assholes feel very self-important to the point of narcissism (or even past that point) that they’re ready to challenge anything and anybody that makes them or their thoughts feel less important.

The only difference is that they confront fellow coworkers and even their bosses in a much more direct way and it often comes across as brash.

One thing is certain though: they’re not afraid of shit.

4) They’re Manipulative

One of the reasons assholes get promoted is because they can be extremely manipulative. They know which buttons to press, which levers to pull, when to chuckle delicately, and when to blend in.

They’re pros at blamestorming, staying away from trouble and positioning themselves to be in the right place at the right time.

They make themselves the person everyone wants to be friends with but only for a select group of people because that group of people could help them in the future.

They sometimes look nice to get what they want but could get angry for strategic reasons and calm down immediately when they get what they want.

5) They’re Unreasonably Competitive

Assholes generally look out only for themselves. They do this because they don’t see colleagues as teammates but as competitors.

If you’re not careful, you’ll be thrown under the effin’ bus when you’re up against them.

They make every project look like a competition: first to send that mail, first to clock in, last to leave, first to welcome the new boss, and so on.

For every task someone does, they’ll one up it. Or figure out ways to add just a bit more superficial value and claim it as their contribution.

It’s exhausting but it gets them noticed quickly.

Why Exactly Do Assholes Get Promoted?

Why does this happen exactly?

Assholes treat people like shit, they’re not nice, yet they get all the spoils. They get the promotions, the hotter partners, the attention, and all the things that you’ve been taught goes to the nice guys.

The thing is, assholes have recognized from their early ages when they strategically picked good people in their teams during recess that doing certain things certain ways yield the best results.

They don’t care how things are done but that they are just done and that’s definitely who management wants to promote - those that can get in the zone, get shit done and make the company money.

Nice people, on the other hand, get fed up and leave the company or wait for the work fairy to recognize their efforts and promote them - all while the jerks get promoted.

So we’re here to demystify certain traits that assholes possess that make them get promotions and acknowledgment. 

1) They Self Promote

This could be one of the most important things that make assholes succeed. They are not shy about tooting their own horn and always self-promote. They know how to work their personal brand at all levels of the organization.

They don’t believe that a benevolent member of upper management is looking down on them and will see them doing well and reward them - and they are right. There are a lot of fucking clueless executives in this world.

Nobody has the time to ask you how you did your work, how you met that deadline while working on six other projects and how you even increased the company’s profits by 2%.

Assholes know this as sure as they know their names and go out of their way to let others know what they got done.

Did they finish a project in record time?

They find a way to highlight that during a meeting so that they get assigned the group’s next important task that could further boost their career positively.

Did they increase profit or reduce churn?

They talk about it during after work events as an aside in an important conversation. They’ve got their happy hour etiquette dialed in so well that they are able to schmooze with all the right folks.

Did they source a multi-million dollar-bill?

Oh, you’re never hearing the end of that. And so is management, but in a less annoying way.

You could have done exactly the same things and even more but who do you think will be more capable for greater responsibilities that come with promotions?

The Asshole.

2) They Play Office Politics Expertly

First, we’ll get it out of the way that office politics is for assholes. But then, so are a lot of things in life. It’s a dog eat dog world we live in.

Assholes recognize this and are experts at navigating office politics.

They read each room, know what kind of personalities thrive there and gravitate towards those personalities that have influence. They also adjust to become those personalities that would thrive.

Do the bosses like someone who has proven that they are go-getters and can wear many hats?

You best believe that they will adjust to fit that position.

Is it a sales role that demands undying charisma and charm?

They’ve got it.

Or are they in that position where they believe that being a little rude will give them more power? Afterall, this research by the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal has shown how being rude makes people respect you more.

So who do you think gets the promotion?

The Asshole.

3) They Are No-bullshit Communicators

Assholes don’t strive to be nice - they strive to get shit done. Which is why they won’t sprinkle their conversations with niceties and the like and always get straight to the point.

They’re like doctors when they want to give you bad news - little emotion on their faces so that you don’t get even more emotional. They just lay it all out.

Except that assholes are different from doctors because they don’t generally feel that emotion in the first place. They’re not your work BFF. They tell you what needs to be done and don’t give one fuck about your feelings or objections.

This makes them really efficient in carrying out heavy or delicate responsibilities and gives others the vibe that they’ll be even more effective with a promotion.

So they get the promotion.

4) They Produce Results

Like we said earlier, for assholes, the end justifies the means. They don’t care what needs to be done, they just want it done.

Does reaching their quarterly target mean that they have to lay a lot of people off? Or have to dump industrial waste in some river? Or do they have to cover up just a tiny little number on the accounting book that nobody will notice?

Yes, they would. And it makes their annual performance reviews a slam dunk because they smash their targets more than anyone else.

Some don’t necessarily have to do anything illegal - just maybe unethical. But who policies ethics except their conscience? Especially when management is happy to turn a blind eye because they’re making the company a lot of money?

It’s immoral, it’s unethical, it’s probably illegal but it gets the job done.

And in office cultures where this is tolerated or even secretly upheld, the assholes get promoted.

5) Know Exactly Which Buttons To Press

Aside from office politics, assholes know which buttons to press and how to press them to get good results. They know when to act the victim or the perpetrator.

They are also very skilled in getting what they want by forming alliances at work. And, during meetings and convos, they often use subtle suggestions that make the listener think it’s their idea. They’re sly like that.

Have you ever wondered why your boss all of a sudden came up with a new idea that matched what the asshole had previously boasted about?

You probably thought there was no chance that your boss could use that idea but out of the blue, he comes up with the same one?

It’s a subtle art that all serious assholes have mastered - they try to convince the other party to make things go their way by passing it off as the other party’s idea.

They also know when to use brute force and aggressiveness. When to shout and challenge things to get their ways.

It’s a beautiful yet deadly art that makes them get their way.

And it’s why they get promoted.

In essence, assholes have traits that make people believe they can do the job and they really can. Some things are just unacceptable to do for some nice people so it’s a wonder why these assholes get the promotion.

How To Be A "Good Asshole" And Get Promoted

Now that we’ve established why assholes get promotion, it’s important that we learn a thing or two from them.

We’re not advocating for the unethical and illegal - far from it. We want you to have that perfect blend of certain assholes traits and nice people traits that make a “good asshole.”

Inasmuch as most assholes get promoted, there’s always some spot reserved for the good assholes. They’re the kind that are driven and ambitious but have enough empathy to make them human.

These are the folks that build positive office karma fast.

They also know that they can’t please everybody because nobody can, but they’ll still go out of their way to be kind.

However, this does not impact their results because they still know how to navigate office life to get great results - they’re just nicer and more human at it.

Here are ways to be a "good asshole" and get the recognition and promotion that you deserve.

1) Produce High Quality Results And Promote Them

We understand that sometimes the office can get boring which makes you prone to cyberloafing and dawdling to kill time. Well, don’t do this. Instead, focus on your work and focus on producing high-quality results.

You need to get in the zone every single day and kick ass at what you do.

But that’s only half of the equation.

You gotta give it a platform too. Self-promotion helps to put your work out there.

No work fairy will magically pick your work out of the pile and highlight it to your boss - you have to do it yourself. That’s how you get the recognition you fucking deserve.

2) Be Crazy Efficient

We know we just told you to put in high quality work, but you can’t endlessly stretch yourself or you’ll burnout. Efficiency here means knowing exactly when and where to go all out and when to pull back.

It’s like saving the best of the best of the best for those you’re sure will positively impact your career. Now, you might think this is office politics but the truth is, it’s life politics.

There are people that are always the key decision makers and you want to put the best of the best work for them because you want them in your corner. You want them to know that it’s you that is the reason it’s successful.

On the other hand, you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin and you should know that everything can’t be number one. You need to know what tasks are not important and have a low priority that you can easily delegate, do in your spare time or just drop.

Figuring this out will put you in the top of your colleagues as those who matter to your promotion and career progression are the ones you need to impress the most.

There’s time to put in your best and time to put in your best of the best. It’s not politics, it’s awareness.

3) Build And Strengthen Your Personal Brand

Assholes are known for something: they’re good sales people, good communicators, effective, and so on. It is this reputation that determines how they’re treated.

Think about it.

No way can you ask an asshole, no matter how politely, to please fetch coffee for you. First off, you know that they have solid boundaries and take no bullshit. Second, you know that they value their time. And third, you know that you just can’t.

Why? Because their personal brand screams “ruthlessly effective.”

Now, since you’re the good guy, you don’t want to be ruthless because deep down, all assholes are lonely and their ruthlessness makes it worse. You don’t want that.

However, you also don’t want to be the person that everyone steps on in a meeting. You want to be the person that people turn to ask for solutions or to say, “hey, what do you think about it?”

This can only happen once you’ve established that you’re worth having in the room. And how do you do this? By following all the steps above and below.

4) Build Meaningful Relationships

Here comes the tricky part. We know that we said that assholes are manipulative and we all know that being manipulative is not nice.

However, you want to be able to steer things in the direction you need.

Assholes are ruthless in the value they place on each relationship.

They know who to call when they need to get the printing done quickly even after the printing room is closed. They know who to call if they need a word to be put in for their annual performance review. They know who to call when their cars break down.

They know this because they know what each relationship is for and how to extract and maintain value from these relationships.

You need to learn this from them but you also don’t want your relationships to be robotic, forced or fake. You need to make real connections and bond with your coworkers. It should be genuine and should go both ways.

You want them to be in your corner and they should also know that you’re firmly in their corner too. These friends are the ones who will speak positive things about you behind closed doors. Nurture those friendships.

5) Be Ambitious And Get After It

What’s the point of being Mr./Ms. Nice Guy if you’re not ambitious?

A good boss can see determination and ambitiousness from a mile away and know when people are coming into work for work’s sake. Bosses who don’t give a shit will be useless.

If you want to get that promotion, you have to show that you’re ambitious. It’ll seep into everything you do. Your conversations, your deliverables, your punctuality, and so on.

Now we don’t advocate for blind ambition where you step on everyone’s toes to get what you want. Remember, that you’re building new relationships and you shouldn't ruin those.

However, you need to have a goal, a plan that you’re willing to follow to produce all the best results.

Call Me "Mr Nice Guy Get Things Done"

You’ve built meaningful relationships and have a strong brand around the office. You‘re ambitious and you always meet the bottom line.

You’re well-liked, but you’re also a no-nonsense person which makes everything about you efficient and effective. You’re inclusive of people’s opinions and you get things done.

So, when the next big promotion comes up for grabs, you’ll be ready and very confident.

All of the key upper management and your various multiple bosses will see you as the sole obvious choice. Even your other colleagues will see it the same way.

And when Todd walks into the meeting late as usual, he’ll be thrown off by the fact that you’re at the main table with all of the other heavy-hitters and he’s relegated to taking the spare seat at the back of the room.


It seems being a nice, efficient guy is much better than being an asshole.

And it showed because guess who got the promotion?


Keep focused and you’ll be winning one for the good guys.

Feel Better,

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