I believe that we should be less tolerant of assholes.

Collectively, it would benefit us all.

It's funny... I think most people go through an arc in life where they are fiestier and more combative when they are younger. As they get older, they let a lot more slide.

In most cases this represents a person maturing. You realize you need to pick and choose your battles, and some battles you'll never win. But just as much, I think people settle into the fact that they are increasingly comfortable. As we get older, there's often more comfort in our lives and we're not as interested in rocking it. 

As for me, anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very calm person. I don't seek out confrontation, and I'm certainly more passive than aggressive.

But as I get older, my tolerance for assholes is eroding. I simply think we let assholes get away with too much—and because we do, they continue to act like jerks. We can't change everyone... I get that. But if we let everyone that acts like a jerk remain unchecked, no one is going to change their behavior. Our tolerance does perpetrate the problem. 

All too often people who treat other people horribly simply haven't been punched in the mouth. I'm not here to advocate violence—whether that punch is physical or proverbial, the assholes that I know by-and-large would have benefitted from a wake up call. Better yet, one that was rather abrupt.

Increasingly, I'm willing to give it. Jerks are too often used to skating by unchecked—many have never been confronted before! And that's a big part of the problem.

I've been thinking a lot about how we treat one another since 2020, but the impetus for this post came this week via a customer of my start-up. The customer in question wanted a refund—he signed up for Outseta, never used the product, and forgot to cancel. We offer refunds in this scenario 100 times out of 100; no questions asked.

Rathering than explaining the scenario and asking for a refund, he immediately sent me an email promising to sue me and leave negative reviews of our product across the internet. 

I processed the refund—but the first line of my response to the customer was:

"Please read what you just wrote to me."

I asked the user to reflect on how they immedately defaulted to threatening lawsuits and negative reviews—when all they had to do was ask.

You could argue I should have just taken the high road—it's not my place to play God and our support inbox isn't the place for lectures. You're not wrong; I certainly feel that to a large extent. But what type of environment are we fostering when we let this kind of thing go unchecked?

When threatening lawsuits becomes a means of getting a $39 refund, rather than simply asking politely?

If Outseta wasn't my business, this sort of response might get me fired. And was it the best "business decision?" Probably not.

But I'm tired of letting people like this terrorize the business world. I'm tired that we too readily accept that this is what "normal" interpersonal behavior looks like. There should be so much less room for this crap in the world.

I understand the stoic perspective of not bothering with battles that you can't win, and the last thing I want is to turn everything into a confrontation. Gosh, we all need more tolerance in the world.

But when you see someone needlessly being an asshole... call them out. Draw attention to their behavior. Make sure that they know that it's not cool.

Take the air out of their sails to the extent that you can.

Yes, some people simply can't be reached. But most of us have to sit alone with our thoughts at some point. Give that person pause for thought in those moments; they might just reflect on how they acted towards others.

Let's make the world more uncomfortable for jerks. 

One asshole at a time.