Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Review: I HATE PEOPLE: Kick Loose from Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your Job

Review of I HATE PEOPLE! Kick Loose from Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your Job by Jonathan Littman & Marc Hershon

Designed for navigating pitfalls and stop signs in the workplace, I HATE PEOPLE! helps you identify the top drains on your time and resources and teaches office jujitsu tactics to help wrest back your time.

Divided into four parts, the book first identifies and classifies each of The Ten Least Wanted who pose the greatest threat to getting your work done in the office. Without going into a full discussion of The Ten Least Wanted, here they are:

  • Stop Sign (like the Kodak executive who predicted digital cameras had no future)
  • Flimflam ("expert at identifying people to do her bidding")
  • Bulldozer ("wrong decision is better than indecision")
  • Smiley Face (think Batman's Joker - constantly smiling with something up his sleeve)
  • Liar Liar
  • Switchblade (Judas)
  • Minute Man ("Do you have a minute, I just have one thing...")
  • Know-It-None (full of facts, but most of which are useless or wrong)
  • Spreadsheet (Obsessive micromanager)
  • Sheeple (avoids making decisions)

The second part of the book introduces the concept of Flying Solo. If you enjoy your work but not distractions from people around you, then your best solution would be to become a successful Soloist. As a soloist, on your best days, you are someone who works effectively with small groups and on your own. By sharing the stories and techniques of successful soloists from a broad range of industries and companies, the book develops a clear picture of how a soloist works.

The last half of the book deals with the work environment. The third section, Office Life, incorporates The Ten Least Wanted with the constraints and demands of office life, such as constant interruptions, disruptions, unreasonable expectations and demands, and excessive rules and red tape. While the last section, Spaces and Places, discusses the need to carve out your own "personal cave" - whether you work in a bull pen, a cubicle, office with a door, or occasionally from home.

The advice and strategies are interspersed with enough anecdotes from successful soloists to make I HATE PEOPLE! both helpful and interesting read. I'll spare you the comments about how I would have loved to read this while working at Big Law or any similarly predictable remarks. I do think the book's strength is that it helps identify the difficult people and situations that we absorb, acquiesce and live out on a regular basis. I look forward to trying out several of the suggested strategies, such as being more sensitive to and wary of the Switchblades around and trying a "hard stop" with my Minute Man.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who feels frustrated in the office and is looking for ways to eke out more time and autonomy.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 10, 2009), 272 pages.
Courtesy of Hatchette Book Group.

The book giveaway for I HATE PEOPLE continues until June 3o!

Many thanks, Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for this opportunity!


  1. Nicely written review. I like the quick recap of the book sections. Makes me want to read it more :-)

  2. Thanks, Cabadov! Would you like to join the book giveaway?

  3. LOL, I did that before I read the review. Thanks :-)