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Book Review: Am I the Only Sane One Working Here?

Advice for Dealing With Difficult People

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Am I The Only Sane One Working Here?

Subtitled "101 Solutions for Surviving Office Insanity", Am I the Only Sane One Working Here? by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D. is a manual for dealing with difficult people. As a small business owner it will quickly become your Bible for managing people.

A Practical Manual for Dealing With Difficult People

What sets this book apart from other self-help books on dealing with difficult people is the concrete, common sense approach of the advice Bernstein provides. (Ever wonder why they call it common sense when it seems to be so rare?)

The book is organized, as advertised, into one hundred and one 'Survival Scenarios', such as Anger, People Skills, and Slackers. In each case, the author describes a situation where people act in disruptive ways and then presents a series of steps that you need to take to deal with the problem person successfully (i.e. getting him to stop and/or modify his behavior). I found myself bookmarking particular scenarios as I read, recognizing how I could apply the advice to people in real life – and recognizing exactly where and how I had gone wrong in previous encounters with the 'difficult' people in question.

A Beneficial Read to Small Business Owners Too

While Am I the Only Sane One Working Here? is pitched to employees, it's an especially valuable reference for business management. You don't need to have a large office filled with staff to benefit from reading this book; no matter what kind of business you run and how small a staff you have, you're going to have to spend time dealing with difficult people. Every type of difficult person you have or will ever encounter is covered in this book with a clear explanation of how to deal with his or her behavior.

Who hasn't had someone lie to them, for instance, or doesn't know someone who is a habitual liar? In Chapter 1, Lies and Bullshit, Bernstein explains exactly what you need to do to deal with all kinds of liars, from the pathological through the dog-ate-my-homework types.

Especially Useful for Business Management

And the book is also a useful tool for honing your business and people management skills. Business management not your forté? Read the section on "Critical Distinctions Every Manager Should Know" and brush up on the difference between supervising and managing and delegation and task assignment, for example. Feel that your people skills are a little lacking? Bernstein’s "People Skills Workout for Guys" will polish them.

There are even scenarios that will help you deal with specific business problems, such as getting over the fear of cold calls and overcoming the fear of speaking in public.

One Criticism

My only beef with the book is the author's lapses into vulgar language. I've already referred to the title of Chapter 1, for instance, Lies and Bullshit, and there are several other glaring examples in the book, such as "Narcissistic As***". That kind of language may be okay around the water-cooler in some places but is unacceptable as business communication.

However, this book has a lot to teach anyone who's interested in learning how to make their interactions with others less stressful and more beneficial. And if you're managing or running a small business, you'll want to keep a copy handy.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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