Here are things I loved learning from the book “Surrounded by Idiots”:

Foreword by Hal: (Don’t judge this book by its cover)

As it is with any self-help books, this one also has very mixed reviews. Some people love it and use it as a guide, and some people hate it with a passion. I came across this book in 2014 and truly wished it were written way before, like in the 80’s. But it is never too late to learn about the complex human behaviors. And this book has done a marvelous job at simplifying human psyche into a couple hundred pages of easy reading (as I always say, KISS principle) People behavior of course is not an exact science, but with the help of this simple book  lots of painful misunderstandings can be avoided.

By observing specific behaviors, I can learn what makes people tick.

Okay, so this is not a brilliant discovery, but Erikson gives specific examples of what you can do to quickly get a better understanding of the personalities of those around you. His simplest advice is to just “shut your mouth and start listening.”

Most people are a mix of different colors.

After glancing at the characteristics of the different colors on the inside cover of “Surrounded by Idiots,” I assumed I was a strong Red. But, as I read on, it became clear I had elements of all the colors. This is common. According to the author only 5% of people are solidly just one color. Eighty percent of us are two colors. And 15% are three — with virtually no one exhibiting an even split among all the colors.

Someone’s behavior that feels like a flaw in one situation can become an asset in others.

This is the basis for the book’s title. Each of the different color personality types has its pros and cons. For example, while you would not want a Red’s abrasiveness anywhere near a sensitive situation, they are indispensable when you need help with a seemingly insurmountable problem since they love a good challenge and are relentlessly hard workers.

To get through to people, you need to meet them where they are.

It is natural to assume that others will receive and interpret information the same way you do. If a certain method is effective for you, you would think it would be effective for everyone else. But that, of course, is not true. “Surrounded by Idiots” helps you figure out how best to deliver feedback and other information once you understand an individual’s personality. For example, Reds will want specific examples. Blues will want all the details, facts, and figures, and excel sheets…. Yellows need concrete examples (and you may need to repeat yourself since they have a short memory). And, with Greens, you need to be gentle.

The best groups have an even collection of all the personality types.

We tend to get along better with people who are the same color as us. But in fact, is you put the same colors together the results were disastrous. A healthy mix-balance of the colors moves teamwork forward smoothly. It takes all our personalities to make it what it is. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it is only through that understanding that we can work with and bring out the best in each other.

Impatience with slow decision-making and the need for at least some control in every group, relentless passion for innovating, short temper and keeping things simple and easy to understand are part of Red traits. Even though there are painful to deal with, they are the ones who make the world turn…

Fair warning: You will start mentally assessing everyone you meet as you read this book.

Here is a link to the PDF version of the book if you don’t want to buy the hardcopy (which you should btw :


Published On: 12/04/2022 / Categories: Blog /