Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life) – Thomas Erikson

Norwegian title: Omgitt av Idioter

Hi guys!

Lovely title right? I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about this book and its author since he has become quite famous since he published this one. It has taken me forever to read this one but I attended a lecture with him on November 3 so that really became my motivation for finally reading it before attending that lecture, and I must say: I’ve laughed, I’ve envisioned people, and I’ve learned new stuff about myself! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:

Author Thomas Erikson explains that there are four key behaviour types that define how we interact with and perceive the people around us. Understanding someone’s pattern of behaviour is the key to successful communication. Erikson breaks down the four kinds of behaviour types–Reds who are dominant and commanding, Yellows who are social and optimistic, Greens who are laid back and friendly, and Blues who are analytical and precise–and explains how to identify and interact with each type of person. Instead of being bogged down with overly technical categorizations, the simple four-colour system allows you to speedily identify a friend or coworker and adjust how you speak and share with them.

Surrounded by Idiots is full of practical information for interacting with people based on their colour, including the strengths and weaknesses of all the profiles, how to give positive and negative feedback to each, and the best way to word an email when writing to someone with a different profile. 

Surrounded by Idiots is an intriguing read in many aspects. What I found most amusing was that whilst reading I recognized the behaviour of several people in my life, including my own. My colours, if you’re wondering, are yellow, red, and blue where my yellow is the strongest influencer of my behaviour closely followed by red. I’ve always thought that I was mainly red, also whilst reading the book, but after attending a lecture with Erikson I realized that yellow is my main colour. I’m rather lacking in the green colour although all of us have something of every colour. There was a bit few too many things that were connected to the yellow behaviour that applies to me. My boyfriend looked at me several times during the lecture and pointed out that ‘This is you!’. I started out by disagreeing with him but then I had to give in when it became too obvious that yes, I’m mainly yellow. What was really funny during that lecture was that I sometimes was presented with different yellow behaviour patterns and I had to laugh out loud because it was a bit too true. I ended up in tears from laughing a few times so the lecture provided great entertainment!

After reading the book I can’t say I relate to everything it says but I do, surprisingly, relate to quite a bit. The great thing about this book is that there isn’t a definite answer to this. This is what science says but I do believe that there is a very strong sense of truth to the book no matter what considering the number of realizations I had about both myself and others reactions and behaviours. It’s a good thing I’m a waitress so I can test it out for myself if I’m bored at work, haha.

It wasn’t all behaviours I wanted to admit to but I tried my best to admit not only the good stuff about my colours but also the bad stuff. That’s what gains us self-reflection after all and that is important in all aspects of your life. A tip for reading this book is to take different coloured post-it notes which each represent something and put them throughout the book when something relevant appears. I used ‘Typical me’, ‘Won’t admit it’, ‘Wish it was truer for me’, and ‘A little typical of me’. Thus, I can go back later on and look up my behaviour if I encounter a scenario where I thought I would react in a specific way. Maybe I reacted differently than my colours indicate?

I very much enjoyed the way Erikson has structured the book! He first presents the colours before he moves on to how to communicate, criticize and give them feedback, basically everything you need to communicate with the different people you encounter. Again, didn’t want to admit everything but I tried. I believe one gets creds for trying, haha (yellow behaviour). This book had a special appeal to me due to my background in Psychology and I recognised a bit from my curriculum but the behaviour of people was never my strong suit whilst I attended my bachelor’s degree. I’ve become more motivated to learn more now though since our behaviour is something that concerns us all since we all behave in one way or another. It is an easy book to read because it is full of examples and an easy language. The examples are very relevant and it’s easy to see the connection between them and what Erikson talks about in the book.

If you’re curious about your own colours or other peoples seemingly idiotic behaviour then I strongly suggest that you read this book! You’ll laugh, recognize others, and most certainly learn some new things about yourself if you’re open for it. Erikson has also written Surrounded by Psychopaths and Surrounded by Shitty Bosses. The next book is expected in 2020 and I have to try to read the other two before the fourth book is published!

Published: 2014

Genre: Nonfiction

Theme: Behaviour, psychology, communication

– The Book Reader


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