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on 19 June 2017
There's some useful information here, and the author's approach to telling through examples is admirable. But for me, though, the book lacked in the tactics department. The author spends a great deal of time arguing that 'healthy' office politics is necessary to succeed in the Western workplace, and he does a good job of this. Where he falls short is in the actual execution of the tactics needed. I felt these could have been unpacked a little and made more actionable for the reader. Nonetheless, if you're about to step into a workplace for the first time or if you're a seasoned office worker, I would recommend you pick this up.
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on 7 March 2017
This book is really enlightening, by giving real life examples. It details how things could work out in an office enviroment and suggests methods to deal with certain situation. I've taken a lot by reading this book and i'm sure it will assist me with my enviroment. I would recommend this book to any one entering an office enviroment or are struggling to deal with office politics.
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on 25 April 2014
Working with someone who must have been the model for the boss combining all three psychopath, narcissist and machiavellian tendencies to make "The Dark Triad" (I think that was her maiden name), I found this to be one of those books where "Oh my God, that's so true!" kept bursting forth. Luckily by the time I bought this book, I'd already resigned and was on my way to work for a saint but had I been forced to stay, I may have been able to repurpose this book as a suppository.
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on 23 February 2013
Despite the title, you dont need to work in an office to make use of this book.
I work in a privately run prison, and this book helped to understand the attitudes of those people i already knew i could not trust. And, i dont mean prisoners!
Even if, like me, you have no interest in playing the political game to get ahead this uncovers the methodology of how they do what they do, and how to protect yourself. I am a union rep ('career limiting' in itself) and have to dance around the corporate bod's a un-fair bit, and this book will prove invaluable in understanding the motivations of the endless levels of managers i have to deal with. If i know what makes them tick i can plan accordingly.

We have become a nation of office dwellers, who are led by successive corrupt governments, and this has ingrained a certainmentality into the British people on a massive scale. Whether you want to plaay the 'game' or just be left alone, this book is will give you the knowledge to understand thse around you. How you use it is up to you.
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on 24 November 2013
Although some reviewers have quite rightly stated that the information in this book is obvious (glaringly so in some cases), this has to be qualified in that to the experienced then these things are indeed obvious. However, to those just leaving university or finding their way into their first office job, then this book is an excellent choice. How naive was I many years ago in believing that raw talent and hard work were the only requisites necessary for career advancement! Since those halcyon days of juvenile gullibity I have experienced many bitter and painful lessons illustrating that reality is very much to the contrary. I have witnessed the rise and promotion of some of the biggest idiots I have every known, due to astute connectedness and politicking on their part I might add.

I have also had the misfortune to once work under the management of an out and out psychopath (triadic personality), I mean this guy really ticked all the wrong boxes! He was tirelessly scheming, spiteful, and viscious beyond belief - in fact I used to call him the 'Prince of Darkness', but that was a diservice to Satan really! My point is that knowing these things, which this book clearly points out, are vital for survival let alone career advancement in today's workplace. Unfortunately, the reality is that game playing is an absolute must when you are forced to work for a living and are at the mercy of more powerful people who are superior to you. I have recently witnessed some very honest and hard working colleagues deposed from their positions because they failed to understand these principles which underpin modern office life. We must understand that we have to sing to the tune of our paymasters, and that no amount of honesty and personal integrity will save us from their axe should we not dance to their tune. Very sad really, but nonetheless the truth.

The book is well written and easy to read. I liked the anecdotal stories which clearly highlighted the authors main points. Applying these principles will go a long way towards helping to keep you 'under the radar' so to speak, and to further your advancement should you wish to do so. Overall a very good read and informative.
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on 6 February 2016
I found this quite an eye-opener. It certainly made me reassess my office colleagues and in fact, my own behaviour. Humorous, told using anecdotes and examples, this is a very easy and quick introduction to the psychology of workplace life. Oliver James was an excellent and interesting writer and will be missed. Here he exposes the nasty traits you may find in your office, especially amongst bosses and aggressive colleagues. He gives tips on how to survive and also how to keep yourself safe and sane. Recommended for all who work with other people, whether in an office or elsewhere.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 September 2014
The book - written by an author who had plenty of live exposure to office politics - attempts first to explain the personality traits leading to the so called dark triad of psychopathy, Machiavellianism an narcissism (which combined make for a pretty uncomfortable office environment), and then to demonstrate some of the broader office politics issues in practice from a selection of case studies.

The theory is broadly interesting and the author has attempted to make it readable in placing all the sources and additional comments in the endnotes. While I would have preferred to have them in the main part of the book, at least in the Kindle format, accessing them is just a 'click' away (and the format may better work for readers who rarely check them). The fact that the three 'dark personality traits' often co-exist is interesting on its own and some of the statistics were definitely intriguing (although more would not go amiss).

The second part attempts to demonstrate office politics in some more detail through a collection of cases the author got via interviews with some 50 individuals (not all are in the book, however). This part may have the odd funny episode and you will definitely recognise some of the behaviours described if you work in an office environment but somehow I often felt there was something missing in order to make it all really gel. The two parts are not always a seamless match and in essence it looks a bit like two separate books - the second one with a more sensationalist twist than the first.

Overall the main message - namely that office politics is a way of life for office environments and that it can be used for achieving good aims, as well as shamelessly abused - is brought across. Maybe not as succinctly as in Cultivate a Cool Career: 52 Brilliant Ideas for Reaching the Top (52 Brilliant Ideas) but well enough. While the book falls far short of enabling you to become the next office Machiavelli, and will at times also not suffice in successfully defending against them, it is a start in both regards. And perhaps the odd episode will just make you laugh, or otherwise make you feel a bit less alone in your own situation at the office, assuming you do not operate in a purely blissful environment.
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on 24 February 2013
The first part of the book analyses why office politics is hard - objective measures of performance are normally hard to come by, especially when team performance is in question and the issue is how far an individual is valued - there is competition for scarce resources (such as promotion) - and then the people who get on can be psychopaths (think Stalin, says James), machiavels (think Henry Kissinger, says James) or narcissists (think: Madonna or Maradona, says James) - or even all three.

The second part of the book tells you what to do about it: learn to act, learn to read people, ingratiate yourself, be assertive, and make your conscientiousness, honesty and rationality work for you.

The book is based on 50 interviews, a reading of research literature, some personal experience, and it seems clear from the text some background in psychoanalytical theory (James recommends a 16 session course of psychotherapy and also being on the lookout for project in everyday life).

The basic propositions in this book are well worth getting to grips with.

But if I was left feeling less impressed than I'd hoped to be, my feeling was that James had rather over-simpiflied life. This is partly that the theory is not quite as well worked through as I'd have liked. It is impressive to talk about a 'dark triad' of psychopathy, machiavellianism and narcissism, but while no-one would want to be a psychopath (although James does also say at one point: think James Bond), machiavellianism seems more neutral (James says at one point: think Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi), and narcissism has its pros as well as its cons (there'a an interesting book about narcissistic leaders by Maccoby; and you might think as a more positive example of this, think Steve Jobs). The other reflection I could not help having was that the stars of office politics whose techniques for getting on etc are featured in the second part of the book, probably are pretty much machiavels and narcissists.

To see a really well worked through example of what it takes to get on in life big-time, by the way, Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson sets out in meticulous detail just how strong Johnson's desire to get on the world, and would do whatever it took to get there...
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on 18 February 2014
I expected more, it does not really offer any new approah as how to cope, it just states the obvious. I found it to be negative and gave up on it.
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on 21 July 2013
I pretty much tripped over this book accidentally, I am so glad that I did.

My eyes are now wide open, I have been able to set a few things straight in my own mind about the office in which I work. Anybody interested in the unspoken workings of a group of colleagues and the wider organisations within which they operate will learn something from this book.

I leave this book feeling somewhat disappointed at the reality surrounding me at work but happy in that I can find my place more easily within it. My sense of authenticity and understanding of my own ethical and moral standing feel like a solid platform from which I now look forward to observing the workplace tomorrow morning. Bring it on!

Great book.
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