how to tell someone they’re an asshole

Dear Asshole,

Look, there’s something that everyone who knows you wants to tell you, but they don’t know how to say it, and frankly, they’re a little afraid to because they know how you would react to hearing it. What they want to tell you is that you’re an asshole. There’s no simpler or kinder way of putting it, but that’s what you are. And that’s not meant as an insult. This is constructive criticism, tough love. Look, there’s a lot about you that we like. That’s why we tolerate the behavior that makes you an asshole. We want you around. We just want you stop being such an asshole all the time. We want to help you grow so that we can all have a better time together. But in order for that to happen you need to stop being an asshole. And I hate to pull the guilt trip card, but if you really cared about us you would want to get your head straight out of respect for us so that we don’t have to live with an asshole.

Here’s what I mean when I say you’re being an asshole. Basically it all stems from the fact that you only think about yourself. You’re so focused on the importance of your own wants that you walk all over those around you like a marauding zombie oblivious to the path of destruction you leave behind you everywhere you go. You may or may not realize it, but you’re prone to treating others with a lack of respect. This means you must not understand how important people are, because if you understood how important they are you wouldn’t treat them the way you do. So before the night is over you should read these blogs that explain the concept your parents must have never taught you:

The Cosmic Perspective

The Value of Life

People are Important

Karma Ghosts

It’s not hard to treat people well. All you have to do is look at things from other people’s point of view. When you’re standing around talking to people and milling about, stop and look at the people around you. Think about how your actions affect them. Imagine different possibilities of ways you could behave that would make everybody’s lives better.

When you start to do something that you know is going to hurt or inconvenience them stop and ask yourself what your justification is. Whatever your justification is, I can guarantee it’s wrong. Nobody deserves to be yelled at, belittled, intimidated, screwed over, beaten or killed. I mean, look at you. You’re an asshole. You lower the quality of life for most of the people around you. Should you be yelled at, beaten or killed? No. As many vendettas as people could rightfully claim against you, nobody wants that. We want you to grow. We’d rather you learn from your mistakes than us punish you for them. The only reason we would punish you anyway is to teach you a lesson. Nobody has to get blood on their hands if you would just realize what an asshole you are and fix that.

You need to look at others the same way. You don’t need to go through life being an asshole to other people. You don’t have to be mean to get what you want. You don’t have to hurt others to get what you want, and you can go out of your way for other people without being rewarded for it and still be happy. In fact, the better you treat others the better you’ll feel about yourself and the happier you’ll be.

Look, I don’t know what happened to you in your past that made you be such an asshole. I’m sure somewhere down the line someone was an asshole to you. Or maybe someone passively neglected your needs the way you neglect others’ today. If you’re in pain then you have everyone’s sympathy. It’s understandable if you’re lashing out at the world out of fear and anger at the things that have happened to you. It’s understandable if nobody ever taught you how to act respectfully towards others. If people knew your whole story they’d sympathies with you instead of resenting you. They’d understand that you’re not a bad person. You’re just a hurt person.

Or maybe the problem isn’t that you had an unfair life. Maybe the problem is you were pampered and spoiled growing up. If that’s the case you’re still a victim, because your life of privilege has crippled you. Your arrogance and sense of entitlement deserve our sympathy, not the resentment we feel towards you.

At any rate, even if we could find the exact excuse that explains your behavior  an excuse is not a justification. You can’t keep treating people like they’re less important than you. Your actions are your responsibility, and if you’re old enough to read this then you’re old enough to accept responsibility for your actions.

Nobody expects you to have a religious conversion right here and now. Just spend some time alone in a place you feel comfortable and do some serious soul searching. Put your ego aside and question yourself objectively. Ask yourself what’s wrong with you instead of waiting for someone else to tell you. Once you figure that out then figure out a reason and a way to fix those flaws. When you’re ready to listen to other people ask them to tell you what they wish you would fix about yourself. When they tell you don’t argue with them. Don’t say a word except to ask for clarification and elaboration. No matter what they say or how off base or rude they are, when they’re done talking say, “Thank you for telling me how you feel.” Then walk away and think about what they said.

If you disagree with anything they said, have the wisdom and humility to assume they might be right. The reason you’re an asshole is because you’ve got something figured out wrong. So when other people tell you you’re wrong about something there’s a good chance there’s some truth to what they’re telling you. The point of discussing your flaws isn’t to win an argument. The point is to arrive at truth. Your way of arguing has a history of ending in violence. So you need to learn how to argue effectively before you have another argument. If you can’t take criticism without getting angry at the person in front of you then ask your friends and family to write you a letter explaining why you’re an asshole and what you can do to fix it. When you read those letters, read for truth.

 Look, I’m sorry I had to call you an asshole, but you needed to hear it. Now that you’ve heard it you need to face the fact that it’s true and man up and fix that not just for our sake but for your own. And don’t beat yourself up over this, and don’t get mad at the person who sent you this. Take it like an adult. Use it, and move forward so we can all get back to making the most out of our lives. Thank you for listening.

Forward this to an asshole you know.