What’s the book about? 

It is a book on human behaviour. Thomas Erickson, the author, shares how each of us are uniquely “characterised” in 4 types of behaviour as shown in 4 colours above: red, yellow, green, and blue. 

Who Should Read?

“Surrounded by idiots” offers practical tools to improve communication for: 

  • Bosses and employees. 
  • Sales professionals: Consultants, Relationship Managers … etc. 
  • Spouses 
  • Parents

The 4 Colours

Here is a brief description of individuals in each colour: 

1. Red
They are ambitious, driven, and result-oriented. Often, they are recognised as a leader, manager, and boss who are efficient and effective. Their communication style is direct, fast and straight-to-the-point. 

2. Yellow
They are known to be the people’s people and they know who’s who. They love to be on stage, in the limelight and at parties. They are natural entertainers and we could count on them to entertain and have fun. 

3. Green
They are friendly, thoughtful, and strive to “keep the peace”. If you need help in any area, they can count on them to help as they are “team players”. 

4. Blue
They are logical, analytical, and structured individuals. Their decisions are made usually after careful studies, research and analysis. They are often known as the “smart guys”. 

3 Quick Lessons that I Learnt from It

Apart from being entertaining, the 3 lessons that I learnt are: 

1. I’m Primarily a “Blue”
This is obvious as I tend to be analytical and methodical. These “characteristics” are further accentuated in my journey as an investor. For instance, I choose first to learn about investing via books, do my studies, formulate a plan, analyse and perform further due diligence before concluding to an investment decision. The process can be lengthy but I enjoy all these because of my unique attributes. Hence, my motto is – Investing “right” is better than investing “fast”. 

2. Shortcomings of a “Blue”
There are two in-built weaknesses.

First, it is a lack of speed. Really, my intent is to be “right” and not “fast” and so, I tend to make decisions slower. I would like to have more information to make decisions. In investing, that’s good and bad. I believe the good thing is that I don’t make huge losses from shitty deals. But on the bad side, I don’t make wild gains like 10-baggers or 100-baggers. 

Second, in regards to human relations, I learnt that I might be too critical and as some would put it “robotic”. I didn’t enjoy spontaneity, group meetings or even parties and celebrations. I tend to find them to be energy-draining. I believe the book has pointed out this quite accurately (yup, a blue language) and it gets me to think about making adjustments to improve my social life. 

3. Appreciation of Other Colours

Understandably, other colours have attributes that I don’t possess myself. Thus, I like to acknowledge that and learn to communicate better with other colours. To get me started, here are some pointers that I gathered from this book. 

To communicate with red, 

  • Be firm and direct. 
  • Use bullet points. 
  • Help him see how he could win or meet his objective. 

To communicate with yellow, 

  • Make them look good. 
  • Follow up. 
  • Tell stories and avoid using too much details (facts & figures).

To communicate with green, 

  • Make them feel secure. 
  • Offer private space. 
  • Invite them to help out and contribute. 

To communicate with blue, 

  • Be truthful. 
  • Offer structure and evidence based on facts, figures and research. 
  • Help them to make “smarter” decisions. 


Should you get a copy of this book? 

Well, my take is that you want to: 

  • find out your core behaviour. 
  • understand why you “click” better with certain people.
  • learn to work with people who have different behaviours as you have.
  • enhance your relationships with family, at work and social circle. 

Then, I’m sure that you would enjoy this book thoroughly. 

Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behaviour

Ian Tai
Ian Tai

Financial Content Machine. Dividend Investor. Produced 500+ Financial Articles featured in KCLau.com in Malaysia and the Fifth Person, Value Invest Asia, and Small Cap Asia in Singapore. Regular Host and Presenter of a Weekly Financial Webinar with KCLau.com. Co-Founded DividendVault.com, an online membership site that empowers retail investors to build a stock portfolio that pays rising dividends year after year in Malaysia and Singapore.

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