This was mostly a wrong turn in my “learn how to be a supervisor in the middle of a pandemic” quest. It seems to have received more attention from fans of the author’s other work than people looking for business books, and so perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s much more a self-help book than a management book. Mostly it’s peddling the author’s particular version of emotional authenticity and connectedness. I don’t know that there’s anything bad about her vision per se, but I found the book off-putting: the peculiar phrasing she uses in her workplace (“let’s rumble about this,” “that’s outside of my integrity,” and so on), the self-help-y unspoken assumption that seems to saturate its pages that those who don’t see the light of her vision will bumble around blindly leading terrible lives. Admittedly, I don’t think much of self-help books. They’re quick and easy reads, as this is, but they rub me the wrong way.
And unfortunately, for all the author touts her Ph.D. and calls herself a researcher, this is very much self-help rather than pop psych. Typically, a pop psych book will discuss studies and their methodologies and results in an accessible way for a general audience. This author claims to have done a bunch of research, but her methodology is never discussed beyond vague references to interviewing people. And she never cites a single statistic, instead presenting the One True Way to Be Empathetic, for instance. Somehow I’m pretty sure no psychological research shows 100% unanimity on anything, unless it’s total softball questions like “is murder generally wrong?” At what point does “I talked to a bunch of people about this, and here’s the general consensus” cross the line from anecdote to science? I don’t know, but I’m not convinced this work has done so.
That said, certainly there’s plenty of common sense advice here, like “be clear about what specifically you’re asking people to do” and “try to be nonjudgmental if you want people to feel safe talking to you.” I think the book is a little overly padded with the author quoting long excerpts of people (particularly famous people) praising her work, and it’s probably most useful if you are the head of an organization looking to transform a workplace culture. It kind of annoyed me, but then it’s not my type of thing to begin with.