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Surrounded by Idiots - Book Summary

Surrounded by Idiots - Book Summary

by Thomas Erikson

The book presents the DISC Personality. Here is a free test that I found online, if you want to do it.
This reminded me of the Insights Discovery, a test that we did at my workplace. More info here, and a free test here.

The book explains the 4 types of people, and it points out the dominant colour. Usually we are a mix of 2 or 3 colours!

DISA personality:

I find it useful to have each colour with their sub-”chapters”.

1. RED Personality

  • Dynamic and driven individual.
  • Believe they can achieve anything if they work hard enough.
  • Make quick decisions.
  • Comfortable taking the lead and risks.
  • Talks loud, quick to answer and judge.
  • Cannot sit still.
  • Lose interest fast.
  • Insensitive.
  • Control freaks.
  • Can be hopeless to deal with.
  • “Say what you think!” - But once you do, they can get angry and start to argue.

1.1 They see themselves as:

  • Driven
  • Resolute
  • Ambitious
  • Decisive
  • Competitive
  • Independent
  • Prompt
  • Determined
  • Time-conscious
  • Persuasive
  • Strong-willed
  • Results-oriented

1.2 How others see them:

  • Aggressive
  • Arrogant
  • Egotistical
  • Impatient
  • Controlling
  • Extremely overbearing

1.3 How to communicate with Red

  • To adapt his tempo you need to speed up.
  • Don’t do small talk and communicate clearly and straightforwardly and keep it short.
  • Show that you work hard.
  • Take initiative.
  • They can understand facts to calculate risks.
  • Don’t step down in a fight.
  • If Red is Stressed: Allow him to do some physical work, this will help him to relax and burn that frustration.

1.4 Interactions with other personality colours:

  • Good: Red + Yellow and Red + Blue.
  • Bad: Red + Green.

1.5 Celebrities Red Dominant:

“Steve Jobs, FDR, Venus Williams, or Margaret Thatcher. There’s also Barack Obama and Mother Teresa.”

2. Yellow Personality

  • They are chatty, they can talk to anyone.
  • Popular and funny.
  • They are outgoing and can be extremely persuasive.
  • Enthusiastic, excited and happy to talk about their feelings.
  • They are always smiling and laughing.
  • Very optimistic.
  • Lots of energy and curiosity.
  • Ability to twist and turn things.
  • Move quickly.
  • Have a rich and varied way of gesticulating.
  • They know and like everyone.
  • Good at starting things but do not finish them.

2.1 They see themselves as:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Charming
  • Outgoing
  • Inspiring
  • Optimistic
  • Flexible
  • Open
  • Creative
  • Spontaneous
  • Convincing
  • Easygoing
  • Communicative

2.2 How others see them:

  • Funny and Entertaining
  • Selfish
  • Superficial
  • Bad listeners
  • Inspiring
  • Inability to concentrate

2.3 How to communicate with Yellow

  • To keep his attention and start with the big question.
  • Show him you can follow your gut.
  • Focus and the latest and greatest.
  • Smile and have an open body.
  • They are very susceptible to flattery.
  • Don’t allow them to consume all the oxygen.
  • Be persistent.
  • If Yellow is Stressed: allow him to organise a party, a social event. He needs to socialise and have fun.

2.4 Interactions with other personality colours:

  • Green will help calm you down when you’re confused.
  • Good: Yellow + Red, Yellow + Green.
  • Bad: Yellow + Blue. (Most Challenging!)

2.5 Celebrities Yellow  Dominant:

“Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, and, to take some fictional examples, Pippin from The Lord of the Rings and Han Solo from Star Wars.”

3. Green Personality

  • The green personality is the most common.
  • They are the most balanced.
  • They are passive and are very easy to deal with.
  • Children with dominant green are usually described as little angels.
  • Kind and naturally friendly people.
  • They are the best listeners.
  • Make very good friends.
  • Interest in others is genuine and authentic.

3.1 They see themselves as:

  • Friendly
  • Calm
  • Reliable
  • Considerate
  • Pleasant
  • Patient
  • Predictable
  • Stable
  • Team Player
  • Discrete
  • Thoughtful
  • Good listener

3.2 How others see them:

  • Pleasant
  • Friendly and caring
  • “Others can perceive a Green as dishonest, even though their intention is only to avoid conflict”
  • If they need to relieve pressure, they will talk behind your back.

3.3 How to communicate with Green

  • Give a sense of security.
  • You do the planning.
  • Deliver criticism sensibly.
  • Be patient.
  • If Green is Stressed: allow them to relax, to do nothing. Some activities like gardening, sleep or other forms of relaxation.

3.4 Interactions with other personality colours:

  • Ideal to calm down confused Yellows and excellent at warming up the Blues.
  • Good: Green + Yellow, Green + Blue.
  • Bad: Green + Red

3.5 Celebrities Green Dominant:

“Mr. Rogers, Gandhi, Michelle Obama, and Jimmy Carter are some well-known people with elements of Green. And, yes, Jesus. There’s a guy who knows how to help others.”

4. Blue Personality

  • “He doesn’t make a fuss about himself, but he does keep tabs on what is happening.”
  • Like to analyse: classifying, evaluating and assessing.
  • Very organised.
  • Realist.
  • Informative and detailed- “They’ve Googled, read the owner’s manual, and checked the dictionary—and afterwards they present a report in full.”
  • Modest.
  • Very cautious and often think safety first- rarely takes major risks.
  • Truthful.
  • Calm and balanced.
  • They don’t talk much, but when they do it is important and you should listen.
  • Quality is important.
  • Logical and rational thinker.
    “So let’s say someone discovers an oil stain on the floor. A Red approach might be to lambast the person closest to him and then order him to mop up the stain. A Yellow sees the stain and then forgets it but two days later is surprised when he slips on it. The Green also sees the stain and feels a little bit of guilt because it poses a problem and everyone is ignoring it.
    A Blue would ask, “Why is there an oil spill?” The answer may be that a gasket is leaking. This answer, of course, is unsatisfactory for a Blue.
    “Why is the gasket leaking?” “Because it’s poor quality.”
    “Why do we have poor-quality gaskets in our factory?” “Because the purchasing department was told to save money. We bought cheap gaskets instead of tight-sealed gaskets.”
    “But who asked us to save money and compromise on quality?”
    This is the way he goes on. Maybe the problem will resolve itself. Maybe we’ll get a report of what went wrong, but nothing is done to fix the problem.
    In the end, the Blue solution might be to review our purchasing strategies instead of just mopping up.

4.1 They see themselves as:

  • Accurate
  • Cautious
  • Correct
  • Detail-oriented
  • Logical
  • Methodical
  • Orderly
  • Quality-oriented
  • Reflective
  • Systematic
  • Thorough
  • Unassuming

4.2 How others see them:

  • Defensive
  • Perfectionist
  • Reserved
  • Hesitant
  • Conservative
  • Suspicious
  • Cold
  • Critical

4.3 How to communicate with Blue

  • Make sure you are well prepared.
  • Be honest- if you don’t have the answer just say so.
  • Stick to the task.
  • Skip inspirational speeches the Red and Yellow adore and present facts, and be clear.
  • Give details.
  • Be patient.
  • Remind him that other people have feelings.
  • “Point out that constant criticism rarely accomplishes anything.”
  • If Blue is Stressed: they need their privacy, time and space, so they can analyse the stressor. If they go too deep, offer some proactive help.

4.4 Interactions with other personality colours:

  • Green will help warm you up.
  • Good: Blue + Red, Blue + Green.
  • Bad: Blue + Yellow. (Most Challenging!)

4.5 Celebrities Blue Dominant:

“Bill Gates and Albert Einstein both used their attention to detail and meticulous nature to build their success. We also have Sandra Day O’Connor and Condoleezza Rice. And of course, from the fictional world, Mr. Spock from Star Trek is the perfect Blue—all logic, rationality.”

Note: Some pieces of information are left out of the book.
Get the full experience by reading it!