‘Surrounded by Idiots’ by Thomas Erikson

A fascinating topic becomes an avalanche of clichés and platitudes in this ridiculously oversimplified book about human behaviour.

The narrative is condescending and exceedingly dull. Through a series of tedious anecdotes, Erikson assures us that people can be divided into four behavioural types, packed neatly into four different coloured boxes with no room for nuance or individuality. He then insists that knowing Kevin is a Green and Lucy’s a Yellow will help us all get along better in the office, backing this theory up with a lot of self-congratulatory stories of workplace larks and precious little science.

After reading this book, I’ve learnt that someone who forces their way boisterously into a room and immediately unleashes their ferocious temper on everyone around them is called a Red (although I think I’ll stick to “obnoxious egotist”). But whether Erikson’s rehashing of a basic concept of human behaviour will help anyone establish and maintain any actual human relations is another question. 

It was difficult to read page after page of generic, totalising statements wrapped up in a prose that is at best childish and at worst condescending. To top it off, the book is littered with typos and editing mishaps – here, at least, the blame does not lie with Erikson. 

This is a money-grabbing pamphlet that neither instructs nor entertains. I feel like the idiot for falling for the marketing.

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