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Oct 25 2007   11:09AM GMT

As a public service, presenting the Vonnegut-assisted ARSE test

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

They’re everywhere, and nowhere more prevalent than in the work world. Kurt Vonnegut symbolized them thusly: * As a means of maintaining our serious and sober demeanor on WhatIs, I shall follow his sterling example throughout this blog post. ~ IW

From the seagull manager (one who flies into the office shrieking, craps on everything, and then flies out again) to the copy shop employee who screws up the order for your 10-minutes-from-now presentation and shrugs, working life is studded with *s. You probably know if your boss is an *. You can probably recognize if a colleague is an *. Even your best friend may sometimes display distinctly *-like behavior. But what if someone even closer fits the description? Is it possible that you’re an * and just never realized it? How would you know?

According to Bob Sutton, who wrote The No * Rule (substitute relevant term for asterisk), an * is someone who leaves others “demeaned and de-energized.” A couple of warning signs:

  • Thinking that what you have to say is so important that it supercedes what anyone else is saying, thus giving you the supreme right — perhaps even the obligation — to interrupt.
  • People seem to get hostile in response to your emails. *shrug*
  • You believe that you’re surrounded by idiots.

Sutton created a simple, 24-question test, the * Rating Self-Exam (ARSE) to help you find out if you are, in fact, an *.

Here’s a list of resources from Sutton’s site (Warning: Sutton does not subscribe to the Vonnegut style.):


ARSE Tools


Sutton’s work is intended to serve the greater good by allowing the *s among us to recognize themselves and repent. Here’s to an *-free work zone!

~ Ivy Wigmore

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