Let’s Invent a New Word or Phrase: What do you call someone who “opts out of participating in something but then complains about the outcome.”

This blog post, by Bob Sutton, is about complainers, so to speak.  He writes about people who like to criticize the outcome of something even though they had nothing to do with it.  People like this are everywhere, especially in organizations.

Lazy and critical.  This type of person (Bob Sutton refers to them as destructive assholes, but we’ll call them critics) exists in every facet of life.  Hard to believe that someone would sit back and let everyone else make decisions then criticize the outcome, right?  These people make no decisions, lend nothing to conversation, come up with none of their own ideas, but somehow make out better than those that do come up with the ideas.  These critics wait all day for the moment that they can call someone else out for their “stupid idea” so they can look like they know what they’re talking about.  It’s funny to think that the critics are the ones who move up the ladder faster too.  They realized early in their careers that it was not smart to come up with ideas of your own, but comment on those of others.  Anyone who’s every encountered a person like this knows very well how annoying and hurtful they can be.  Sutton mentions a bank in his article where this exact thing happened.  There were these critics who moved up in the organization, leaving behind the people that came up with the good ideas and worked hard.  It seems so unfair.

The main point of this blog entry by Sutton was to try to figure out what to call someone like this within the organization.  He had received an email from Asa Dotzler, a marketer within Mozilla.  Asa was intent on coming up with a name for the “lazy complainer” or “destructive second-guesser”, but Sutton said that those definition were not powerful enough.

He left the term up for discussion on his website if anyone would care to add ideas as to what you would call a person like this.  I would be content with calling them Lumbergh’s, stemming from the annoying and critical boss from Office Space.


6 Responses

  1. At least were I come (and I think my friend Dr. Dre will agree) from (and I think my rapper friend Dr. Dre will agree) we call those type of people “Haters”. Anyone else have a better/more original name?

    • Hey-educate the old folks. What is the Dr Dre ref? Is ‘haters” really this kind of behavior?

  2. On writing:

    You have a direct and personal tone. This is very readable.

    When you reference LUmbergh, you can include some key example of that character to enhance the reference and also provide context for the uninitiated.

    Can we add polls to WordPress? People love polls.

  3. On substance:

    Do these people exist in classrooms or schools? On student organizations? Or is it only workplaces?

    Also, WHO is promoting these passholes, these backseat nags?

    Does it matter what the complainer’s position is? You mentioned Lumbergh from Office Space. Does it matter that he is a supervisor?

    Join in the fun! What else could we call these folks?

    The I-team (the opposite of no I in team)?

  4. Ross, I think haters is great. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it.

    These people exist everywhere. I’m sure we’ve all had a group project in school with one of these passholes in it. They’re miserable people to work with.

    If you’ve ever seen Office Space, you know Lumbergh, Peter’s supervisor. This man is practically useless. Every time he appears in the movie, he’s telling someone what to do, telling them what they’re doing is worthless, and drinkin a cup of coffee. He’s such a passhole. He’s an example of one of those passholes that climbed his way up the ladder.

  5. I checked back to Bob Sutton’s blog to see what some people came up with. Most of the entries were lame, but there were a couple good ones, most of which revolve around the word asshole.

    Masshole, Slackhole, Passhole (my favorite).
    -contributed by Murphy Dysart.
    The Artful Dodger
    -Charles Dickens

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