Are You a Certified Jerk? Take the ARSE and Find Out

One of the most popular and fun things we’ve done since publishing The No Asshole Rule is to put the self-test from Chapter 4 online. I worked with Guy Kawasaki and the folks at Electric Pulp on this little project. Guy, who has a way with words, suggested that we call it the ARSE (Asshole Rating Self-Exam) and the Electric Pulp people made it work online. I confess that it isn’t a validated test, but the behaviors are based on those described and studied in research on bullying. Over 150,000 people have completed it. If you want to find if you are certified asshole, give the ARSE a try here.

One of the funny effects of the ARSE is that I will meet total strangers, and rather than saying “Hi, my name is Cindy.” They say things like “Hi. My name is Cindy, and I am a 2.” (The highest possible ARSE score is a 24, which means you admit to 24 “asshole behaviors,” a 2 is very low.) I’ve also had quite a few people admit that, at least according to the test, they were borderline assholes. As my earlier posts here and here indicate, if you are worried that you are acting like an asshole, my first two questions would be:

1 . Are you surrounded by a bunch of jerks? And… 2. Are you in a position of power?

In addition, you might check out David Maister’s list, where he describes the times that he has been an asshole (after all, each of us is capable of being an asshole under the wrong conditions). I found his honesty and self-awareness to be stunning.

Finally, although the ARSE is advertised as a self-test, a lot of people take it with others in mind — especially toxic bosses. Here is an email I got awhile back that shows how the test helped one fellow realize it was time to escape from a demeaning Vice-President:

“‘A colleague at work recently passed along a link to Kawasaki who was blogging about your new book The No Asshole Rule. Then we found the ARSE exam and after my friend took it for one of our VPs he promptly quit (the VP scored 23, no kidding). Last Friday was my friend’s last day.

As Milan Kundera wrote in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, no one is listening, they just wait for the person talking to stop for a breath so they can blurt out, “that’s just like me, I….” So, that’s just like me, I have an asshole working at my company. The guy constantly runs good people off.’”

I’d love to hear more stories about your reactions to the ARSE and different ways that you’ve used it. And also let me know if you have any suggestions for items that we should add or take it out.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.