BITE ME: the a-hole

don't ask why. ask why not.

BITE ME: the a-hole

Bite Me is a special 14-installment series based on an undercover  stint at a supermarket to draw out lessons on how to better relate to challenging colleagues in the workplace and how to be a better colleague.

These “profiles” are based on real customers who wanted free samples of food.

It’s cheeky and deliciously honest.

To read the others:


The Humble


The A-Hole
a friendly smile won’t kill you

The Personality

No one likes the A-Hole. No one admits to being the A-Hole. But we know who you are. While we all have our bad days when we just don’t feel like smiling, the A-Hole doesn’t just have one day. It’s pretty much every day. The A-Hole walks around the store with a scowl on his face, wearing his Bluetooth headset, and oftentimes, swearing into his phone as he comes to my table.

The interaction goes something like this: I’m cooking up wild Atlantic salmon – the second delivery of the year. He approaches my table, ready for free food, but never gets off the phone (Very Important Person is he). I say, “Hi! How are you?” He looks right through me. When I finally catch his eye, he looks annoyed (how dare I interrupt him? Oh dear, he might swat me away).

I try again, “would you like try some” with a big smile on my face, thinking, maybe he had a bad day and needs a friendly greeting. Or maybe he was bullied as a kid and doesn’t trust people easily. He dismisses me with a quick wave of the hand, grabs two samples and walks away, ever So Important.

Sometimes, the A-Hole feels so entitled that he will actually reach into my personal space and grab pieces out of my hand or from the cutting board. Sanitation issues or respect do not apply to him. He wants a piece, he deserves a piece, and he’ll take what he deserves.

However Important he may be, I would never want to work with him, for him, or hire him. He may get two samples of my salmon, but he will eat them in self-important solitude.

It’s Not Me, It’s You….

We may never acknowledge that we are the A-Hole in the workplace. But we can certainly identify others who are. They may be charming to the bosses in the office, but not to those who report to him. The truth is, the world is a very, very small place, and how you interact with others in one sphere will often spill into the others. Moreover, how you act in one part of your life generally comes out in other situations – your true nature eventually comes out, regardless of how many masks you try to put on.

Being proud of your achievements is a good thing. Being aware of your stature in your community is a good thing. Being self-important and dismissing the “little people” is not.

You never really know who the person behind the counter or on the other side of the conference table is. And by the time you figure it out, you may come to realize that he may be your boss’s boss or that down the road, you need a favor from him. Fortunately or unfortunately, a first impression has already been made, so it’s best to make a good one the first time around. While it’s rather amusing to watch someone’s behavior turn on a dime once he discovers your “worth,” needless to say, it’s too bad for them that impressions have already been formed.

By keeping a positive, genuine outlook in every aspect of your life, you also develop a positive reputation. The world is small, and people talk. This is not to suggest you have to best buddies with everyone. Just don’t be an A-Hole.

  • Don’t rush. When the A-Hole wants something, he may make every request seem like NOW-or-else. Unless it’s a do-or-die situation, take your time. Don’t rush because you feel pressured. The A-Hole can wait – just like everyone else. You have your priorities, and if you always put his first, then you are essentially handing over your power.
  • Be kind. Even if the A-Hole is being an a-hole, it doesn’t give you license to respond the same. Maintain your composure, your generosity, and your professionalism.
  • Speak up. If the A-Hold is being outwardly brash or rude, call him out on it. It’s not easy to be the one standing up or having the tough conversation, but also by speaking up, you may also build your reputation as someone who will speak the truth will increase. Additionally, the A-Hole may become more aware of how his behavior is being interpreted by others.

It’s Me…

The world is a small place and someone is always watching, whether you know it or not. The sense of entitlement is an unattractive quality that often translates to an attitude of haughtiness and arrogance that most employers do not want.

We can’t be angels all the time. It’s easy to be curt when we are in a rush, but just pausing and being mindful even when we are pressed speak loads to your character and potential. After all, work often presents us with pressures. How you react is critical.

  • Smile – including to strangers. You don’t have to walk around with a Joker grin (because that would be creepy). Simply acknowledge when people say good morning, smile – even when you’re having a bad day. As studies have shown, the more you smile (even fake smiling), the more you will want to smile and the more happy endorphins come rushing through.
  • Be proud, not arrogant. Be forthright in your accomplishments, but don’t boast. It doesn’t impress.
  • Be kind to everyone. Don’t assume that the doorman is only good for opening doors. Don’t be kind just because you think you’ll need favors. Be kind because it’s the right thing to do. Does this mean to be a pushover? No, but kindness can kill.
  • Put away the Crackberry. Except for a few extenuating circumstances, no one is that important that two minutes away from the Crackberry for some human interaction is impossible. When going to the cash register, put the phone down. The most effective networking for jobs and promotions still happen face-to-face. Trust is created through personal interactions, not an email notification.
  • Earn it. No one – no one – is entitled to a job title or a bonus. You may drive a fancy car, but that doesn’t entitle you to leave your car in the fire lane. You likely have worked hard to get where you are, but the work doesn’t just end there. “Making it” does not mean you should feel entitled, but a sign that you should always continue to look for ways to improve, grow, and learn.

There is a line between being confident and being arrogant. The most successful acknowledge that learning never ceases.