I Hate People – A Review

Books aren’t usually known for their packaging, but every once in awhile I run across one that grabs my attention. I Hate People: Kick Loose from the Overbearing and Underhanded Jerks at Work and Get What You Want Out of Your Job is such a book. I was enamored with its aggressive title and excellent illustrations.

I started reading this book early in the summer and was interrupted several occasions. Because of this, my opinion has changed several times. Thankfully, the notes I take throughout my readings help me remember my thoughts.

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I really like the presentation of the book, especially the icons. The book starts off very well with a straightforward and blunt reality – people hate people. I thought the names of the different types you see in an office was pretty funny and mostly true (sheeple), but then it started to wonder. Toward the end of the book is a whole portion talking about spaces and caves.It got long and most of it could have probably been cut. Overall, I felt the book was probably 100 pages of material that was stretched to 261. It simply couldn’t hang onto the raw charm it had in the first 50 pages.

Jonathan Littman has written several other books and the writing style is inviting. I’m not familiar with the other books, but they look interesting, particularly the IDEO ones.

I suggest reading this book as a get-away or beach book. If you don’t finish it, then that is ok, but you’ll be entertained.

Specific call outs:

  • The Chapters start out with quotes and there are a few I liked, particularly “Hell is – other people.” by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Early in the book is a  write up about Microsoft. The narrator is describing their prioritization method by saying that they basically overload the workers and what gets done must be a priority. The rational is that the person who needed it either changed it, revised it, or forgot.
  • This excerpt shows the books humor:

“In a real smile, the eyebrows and the skin between the upper eyelid and eyebrow come down very slightly. The muscle involved is the orbicularisoculi pars lateralis.” Translation: If the eyebrows and eyelids don’t move, watch out: it’s a phony smile!…
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t attempt to outsmile Smiley Face. It’s a trap. Not only will it prove impossible but you may seriously injury muscles in your face and neck.

  • There are people in organizations who love meetings and have learned to follow. In I Hate People, they are called Sheeple.

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  • I liked the stats throughout too. One said that 40 years ago the 10th ranked valued characteristic in the office was Teamwork. Today its first. I guess all the sheeple want to run in herds.
  • There are some great points about mirror neurons. There’s a point emphasizing the need to isolate yourself from others, otherwise your brain could start mimicking your coworkers. And you won’t get things done.
  • This is an excerpt people can probably identify with:

Fear of failure is a big reason why many companies drown their workers
in get-togethers. In some companies, people are not rewarded for taking risks. “They’re rewarded for not making mistakes,” says Lisa Carnel, a veteran of BP and P&G. “So it’s easier to not make fast progress. They want to discuss it, discuss it, discuss it. If you meet, you set up another meeting to then investigate the learnings. Then you set up another meeting.”

  • The authors talk about taking a quick 10. Its simply 10 minutes of focus on whatever your work is. Its useful to say things like “I’ll get to it right after my quick 10.” Those asking for your time will be taken aback by the slang and will probably adopt it themselves – a quick 10.
  • Here is another excerpt I wish I thought of:

We begin each day naively hoping that among the hundreds of mundane irritating, and misspelled pieces of etrash –  we’re not even talking about spam – will be the message. A promising new contract, good news from a client, confirmation of payment.

  • In a segment about Oracle’s purchase of Peoplesoft, the book states that 5000 Saturdays were disrupted by overnight packages that either claimed the recipient was the lucky winner of a new job or the luckless receiver of a severance package.
  • I read in another report recently that continual movement helps to shed weight better than power workouts. The idea is that leisure activities like golf where movement is less strenuous, but longer and more constant is better than a trip to the gym. Well, the authors of the book cite some statistics of a study that confirms that notion. One stat I was really impressed with was how for those trying to lose weight using the active day method their cholesterol levels dropped 37%.  


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