Surrounded by Idiots is basically a reprisal of the DISC system, but in colours. If you subscribe to the notion of “one-size-fits-all” (or in this case, the theory of four-colours-fit-all), then this book is for you. Otherwise, it won’t take you long to realise this book is overhyped.
However, that is not the only problem. The writing is atrocious and the author is clearly trying to mislead with the book title. The anecdote in the introduction alone raises so many red flags about its authenticity that you can’t help but be skeptical about other “stories” told throughout the book. It’s like cherry-picking (or worse, embellishing) something to fit your narrative and some of the quotes sound made up, especially in the chapter, “Voices from Real Life” (ironically). I mean, who uses an adjective such as “cantankerous” in daily conversation?
One could argue that the issue with the writing boils down to the translation from Swedish. But clearly, translation should have no material impact on the style and the substance. The content is so shallow with so much stereotyping that when you finish reading the book, you probably gained little new insights.
The chapter on the “company party” sounded like a story spun to fit the narrative and if you have a good memory, a rehash of earlier “real-life examples”. In other words, a complete time waster.
So too is the chapter on body language, which is out of place, redundant and doesn’t offer any useful insight other than rehashing stereotypical information. The chapter on stress is like, “duh!”
The fundamental problem with Surrounded by Idiots is that the system as preached by the author can be manipulative and deceptive. Even the author admitted it readily. Here I quote one such passage:
I flattered him and congratulated him on his choice of a new car. I simply manipulated him.
If I hadn’t received this book as a birthday present, I wouldn’t have finished reading it. Well, at least I’m not going to read the other spin-offs (or rather, rip-offs) by the same author.
For a more critical take on the book and its author, read this: How Swedes were fooled by one of the biggest scientific bluffs of our time.