Surrounded by Idiots Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Surrounded by Idiots offers great advice on how to get your point across more effectively, communicate better, and work your way up in your personal and professional life by getting to know the four types of personalities people generally have and how to address each one in particular to kickstart a beneficial dialogue, instead of engaging in a conflict.

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Surrounded by Idiots Summary

Communication can be a real struggle when you’re engaging with different types of people. But life doesn’t always send us the people we like to chat with! That’s no one’s fault, but we’ll all still have to learn to work together and get along.

Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson explores the idea of four personality types and different communication techniques for each of them. So maybe it wasn’t you all along. You just didn’t know how to address that person who’s not your personality type! At times, we can’t click with a person and that makes it even more difficult to communicate effectively with them, let alone establish a professional relationship. However, that can negatively impact your career and personal life. Luckily, the book offers a way out of this situation.

We’ll explore it by looking at my top three favorite lessons:

  1. The personality types are Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue, and they’re all quite different from each other. 
  2. The Red and Yellow types tend to be perceived as trouble makers, while Green and Blue are often misunderstood. 
  3. If you have trouble delivering feedback to certain people, it has to do with their personality type.

Let’s see how these types work and interact!

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Lesson 1: Between choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholic, people usually have one dominant type of personality

This concept of dominant personality types was first brought forth by Hippocrates way back in the fifth century BC. He stated that everyone can fall into one of the four categories of personalities: red (choleric), yellow (sanguine), green (phlegmatic), or blue (melancholic). Of course, everyone shares traits from all these categories, but we all have a dominant personality

Dominance, ambition, drive, initiative, and competitiveness characterizes the Red type, or choleric. They are usually hot-headed and hard to tame. They like to change things and claim leadership. This type is also the first one to stand up in a critical situation, as they’re not afraid to speak their minds. 

The Yellow type is different. Sanguine people are confident, cheerful, and charismatic. They keep their optimism in every situation and are fun to be around. They make friends easily and are social beings. The Green type, or phlegmatic, is calm, easygoing, balanced, and non-conflictual. They are great listeners, as they prefer not to talk too much, but let the other person do so. They’re amazing team players as they see things in-depth and collaborate easily

The Blue type, or the melancholic, is often the personality of a pessimistic person. They speak only when they thought everything through and they’ve analyzed all details carefully. They’re also perfectionists, which can slow down their work, and they’re silent in their actions and words. Famous melancholics include Bill Gates and Albert Einstein.

Now, having a predominant personality type doesn’t mean that you don’t share traits with all the others. However, people tend to have mixed Red and Yellow traits, like being extrovert and ambitious, or Green and Blue, implying calmness and analytical skills.

Lesson 2: People are often perceived in the wrong way, which is why learning the personality types can help you communicate better

Here’s what to keep in mind when talking to people from certain personality type groups. For example, most people tend to perceive cholerics as forward, rude, or even aggressive – but Reds aren’t mean or bad people! They just like to take initiative.

The Yellow type is charismatic, charming, and a great communicator, especially in public. People often perceive them as annoying, over-talkative, and jealous of their charisma in public. Yellows are social beings and get hurt by others’ opinions, but since they’re optimistic and easily distracted, they move on pretty quickly.

The Green type is quiet and avoids conflicts at all costs. However, people tend to think they have something to hide because they’re so quiet. Green is the most spread personality type in the world, earning them a reputation of being friendly and easy to be around. Greens are loyal and make great team players, to a point that they’ll put their relationships above actual work. But they’re risk-averse and will never accept change easily, even if it’s for their benefit. 

The Blue type is a complex one, as their elusive nature and ever-wandering and quiet mind can make them seem suspicious. People usually avoid them because they’re perfectionists and over-analytical. Their time is reserved for work and crafting masterpieces while spending little time on relationships. They might seem distant and cold-hearted, but they just love their work and aren’t good at expressing their thoughts. The Blues have rich inner lives and work well, although they take too much time to complete it at times.

Lesson 3: Feedback must be adjusted for each individual to make sure you get your point across properly

When we don’t know how to communicate feedback according to one’s personality type, chances are there’s a big mess that’ll arise from this.

For example, if you try delivering constructive criticism to a choleric, prepare strong arguments and skip the introduction overall! They dislike chatting around and prefer if you go straight to the point.

The sanguine type is a bit different. If you’re in the position of giving feedback to a Yellow type, you’d better come prepared with a list, as they’ll probably be distracted in the process and forget right away.

The Green types avoid conflict and are often sensitive to criticism. They’ll agree with you and feel sorry for themselves until you back off. Don’t fall for it! Deliver the information in one-to-one meetings, give them a small list of improvements, and accept that it’ll take time for them to adapt.

The melancholic type is ready to accept feedback, as long as you’re very detailed in your approach, show them step-by-step how they can improve and where they’re doing something wrong, and you’re ready to answer any questions they might have.

Surrounded by Idiots Review

Surrounded by Idiots shows you how you can improve your communication with the four dominant personality types by tailoring information to the individual. The book holds valuable insights on how to have fruitful conversations with anyone by identifying their type and building the dialogue accordingly. A definite recommend!

Who would I recommend the Surrounded by Idiots summary to?

The 25-year-old aspiring psychologist who wants to learn more about the personality types that humans have, the 35-year-old team leader who’s looking to improve communication in their working group or the 30-year-old introvert who wants to learn how to communicate better and form meaningful connections with people outside their usual group.

Last Updated on October 5, 2022

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.