[PDF] Surrounded by Idiots Summary - Thomas Erikson (2023)


According to Erikson, Green personality types maintain friendly eye contact, a gentle smile, and aren’t averse to hugging. They are okay with touching if they know you well, but they prefer personal space when it comes to strangers and acquaintances. Erikson says this personality type tends to lean backward when sitting and generally maintain a relaxed posture.

(Shortform note: Erikson says people with this personality type are great listeners, and their body language supports the theory. To show that you’re listening, experts recommend many of the behaviors listed here. They also suggest using head movements—for example, nodding signals that you understand, and slightly tilting your head communicates curiosity.)

Body Language: Blue Personality Type

According to Erikson, Blue personalities exhibit the least motion in their body language of all the personality types. They’ll sit or stand perfectly still and deliver a message without hand gestures. Their facial expressions are subtle and controlled. People with this personality value personal space, and if you get too close, they’ll cross their arms or legs to signal discomfort.

(Shortform note: “Closed off” body language can be attributed to several factors outside of personality. For example, crossed legs and arms can signal that a person is uncomfortable, nervous, or even just cold. A person might control her facial expressions when she is distracted by something, focusing on appearing professional, or listening intently. When assessing a person’s body language as it relates to personality, it’s wise to observe them over time.)

Stress Triggers and Responses

In this section, Erikson helps you identify each personality type’s stress triggers and predict how each will respond. By doing so, you can avoid the triggers more easily and tailor your response.

Type Stress Triggers Response Style
  • Lack of authority
  • Time wasters
  • Bureaucracy
  • Routine busywork
When this personality feels stressed, he lashes out and blames others, and his driven nature and high expectations intensify.
  • Negative people
  • Structured schedules
  • Isolation
  • Feeling invisible
This personality’s way of dealing with stress is to become even more Yellow. That is to say, she’ll become more talkative, more optimistic, and more energetic.
  • Frenetic environments
  • Sudden changes
  • Disagreements
  • The spotlight
When this personality is feeling stressed, he’s apt to completely shut down. Usually the most empathetic of all the colors, he’ll switch gears into total apathy.
  • Spontaneous changes
  • Risky decisions
  • Silly mistakes
  • Emotional people
When this personality experiences stress, she slows way down. Suddenly none of her tasks are getting done, and she’ll instead double down on the pessimism.

Stressors of the Enneagram

In the Enneagram personality-typing model, which describes nine personality types based on how people navigate the world and manage their emotions, Erikson’s Red personality type most closely resembles Type Eight, also known as “The Challenger.” When Eights feel powerless, they are prone to overworking themselves and burning out. Eights can combat their fear of weakness and reduce stress by learning to embrace vulnerability.

Erikson’s Yellow personality type most closely translates to Type Seven, “The Enthusiast.” A frequent stressor for Sevens is overcommitment. Sevens like to start projects but often lose interest shortly after. Reminders, deadlines, and incomplete tasks can quickly overwhelm Sevens. They can combat the stress of overcommitment by waiting a day or two before committing to a new project.

Erikson’s Green personality type most closely translates to Type Nine, “The Peacemaker.” A frequent stressor for Nines is decision-making. Because Nines are focused on helping others, they often lose sight of what they want for themselves and feel pressured to make the perfect choice. In the short term, Nines can alleviate the stress of making decisions by asking the requestor to narrow the options to a few choices. In the long term, Nines would benefit from working on their indecisiveness.

Erikson’s Blue personality type most closely resembles Type Six, “The Loyalist.” A frequent stressor for Sixes is uncertainty about the future. When faced with a new situation, Sixes can become paralyzed with worry and panic. To combat this fear of the unknown, Sixes should define their criteria for preparation, and learn to make peace with what is in their control.

Adapting to Each Color’s Style

Erikson next explains, color-by-color, how to adapt to, persuade, and work with other personality types.

How to Persuade a Red Personality: Focus on the future and take initiative. Erikson says people with Red personalities are always looking to the future, and they respect people who take initiative instead of waiting for directions. Tell them exactly what you plan to do to help them. Use concrete figures and stay away from flowery language.

(Shortform note: In contrast, How to Win Friends and Influence People author Dale Carnegie says that stating the truth of a situation and providing evidence is not enough to persuade most people. He says you must also appeal to the other person via their emotions through showmanship.)

How to Work With a Red Personality: Help manage the details. Though they won’t like it, you can help this personality type by reminding them that details are, in fact, important. You might offer to take up the minutiae yourself, or suggest they delegate those tasks to a teammate who will thrive.

(Shortform note: Red personalities have no problem delegating, but because they aren’t detail- oriented to begin with, it could be helpful to create a list of specific tasks that they can then assign to various team members.)

How to Persuade a Yellow Personality: Highlight the innovation. Yellow personalities love being the first to experience something, so Erikson says if you want to sell them something, you should point out the features that are new and exciting.

(Shortform note: While their ability to take risks is admirable, people who are chronically attracted to whatever is “new and shiny” can be taken advantage of. If you fall into this category, it’s important to resist your impulses, and take the time to ask yourself: Is this a real opportunity or simply an interesting distraction?)

How to Work With a Yellow Personality: Create structure. If you want to help a teammate with this personality, Erikson recommends you offer to create some structure by writing up the to-do lists or managing the schedule. They will appreciate someone else taking on this task, and you’ll probably be better at it too.

(Shortform note: Be prepared for this personality type to deviate from the schedule you created, and resist the urge to respond in frustration. Sometimes, having any schedule at all is enough to keep a person on task, even if she constantly adjusts it.)

How to Persuade a Green Personality: Narrow down the choices. Whatever you’re trying to sell to someone with this personality type, Erikson recommends you come to the table with one or two options. Do the research and planning ahead of time, then explain how you narrowed the choices; she will appreciate it.

(Shortform note: If you are offering someone a few choices, you should present your favorite option first. In a set of experiments performed at UC Berkeley, participants were asked to quickly choose between two or more options. Most people selected the first option available.)

How to Work With a Green Personality: Take charge. Green personality types rarely want to lead, and they aren’t built for it. If you’re working with someone with this personality, Erikson recommends you lead the conversations and make the major decisions. Greens prefer to follow the roadmap rather than write it.

(Shortform note: Even if they don’t want to make the decision, most people want to feel like their opinion matters. Erikson says you can help this personality type by taking the lead, but it’s more considerate to first ask if they’d like you to take charge.)

How to Persuade a Blue Personality: Over-prepare. When you want to persuade this personality type, be more prepared than you think you need to be. Erikson recommends you predict what they will ask and have documentation ready. If you don’t know the answer, Erikson warns against guessing.

(Shortform note: If someone, like a Blue personality type, asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, how should you respond? Admitting that you “don’t know” is honest, but it doesn’t inspire confidence if you are trying to sell something. Instead, redirect the conversation by offering what you do know on the subject, and offer to follow up with specifics.)

How to Work With a Blue Personality: Allow her to be meticulous, even if it takes a long time. When it comes to work, Erikson says Blue personalities value quality over everything else. Although they may take longer than you’d like, Erikson says you’ll save time in the long run because corrections won’t be needed.

(Shortform note: You may feel less frustrated with the perfectionism if you know what exactly is being perfected. If you are waiting on a colleague to finish something, try asking, “Can I ask which part you’re still working on, and if I can help in any way?” There’s a good chance she will launch into an explanation about what needs fixing, and you’ll agree with her.)

Delivering Negative Feedback

Working with others often involves giving negative feedback. To increase their receptivity, Erikson explains how to provide negative feedback to an employee based on his or her personality type.

Giving Feedback to a Red Personality

  • Prepare for battle: Erikson warns that someone with this personality type will argue with you on every point and assign a scapegoat for every criticism. Give the feedback when you’re feeling strong.
  • Be direct: Red personalities recognize and hate when things are sugar-coated. Instead, Erikson says, tell them exactly what the problem is, using the fewest words possible.
  • Leave feelings out of it: Red personality types are task-driven (not relationship-driven), so Erikson says you’ll have better luck if you explain how his action affected the person’s performance.

(Shortform note: When it comes to criticism, the sooner you give feedback, the better. This is even more true for dominant personalities, because there is less room to argue when the behavior in question is still fresh in everyone’s mind. If you address the issue right away, you also eliminate the argumentative question of, “Why is this an issue now?”)

Giving Feedback to a Yellow Personality

  • Lead the conversation: Because this personality type tends to take over conversations, Erikson suggests you keep the conversation on track by planning your opening and closing and knowing which topics you want to stick to.
  • Use specific examples: Erikson says to prepare for the person to not believe you. He recommends you have specific examples ready to reinforce your argument.
  • Massage her ego: Flattery goes a long way with sensitive Yellow personalities. Erikson suggests you remind them of all the reasons they’re liked and respected.

(Shortform note: Thanks for the Feedback lays out the anatomy of a feedback conversation. The authors recommend using your opening to connect and align with the other person, using the body of the conversation to discuss the issues, and using the closing to clarify future expectations and plan a follow-up.)

Giving Feedback to a Green Personality

  • Use a gentle approach: Receiving negative feedback is torturous for Green personalities, so approach everything softly—use a kind voice and choose your words carefully.
  • Focus on feelings: This personality type cares deeply about how others feel, and Erikson recommends using this as a tool during the feedback session. Don’t exaggerate, however, because a Green personality will already inflate the criticism in his own mind.
  • Expect an overcorrection: Because Green personalities are so self-critical, Erikson says it’s common for them to dramatically overcorrect when they experience criticism. This behavior will continue only until they feel reassured that you don’t hate them.

(Shortform note: With sensitive employees, it’s also crucial to have your meeting face-to-face. If you deliver a criticism via email, for example, there is a lot of room left for interpretation and amplification. The employee could read more into your comment than is actually there, and he will be less likely to ask for clarification. When you meet in person, on the other hand, you can read his body language and respond accordingly.)

Giving Feedback to a Blue Personality

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare: Have all of your facts straight before approaching with any type of criticism. Review your policies, and be ready to cite them.
  • Provide everything in writing: Before the meeting, Erikson suggests composing a written document that details the criticisms and includes concrete examples.
  • Focus on results, not relationships: Stay away from emotional language and instead focus on how their actions affect progress. Be extremely specific.

(Shortform note: One of the most effective ways a manager can prepare for a performance evaluation is to give feedback throughout the year. Your employees should not be surprised by anything they hear at their review. If you address problem behaviors right when they happen, your employees will be less likely to argue with you when you discuss the behaviors in more detail at a formal meeting.)

The Best and Worst Color Pairings

Erikson says in a perfect world, every working scenario would include all four personality types. Unfortunately, it’s rare for the color distribution to be so even. For this reason, Erikson says it’s important to know which personality types work best and least well together.

Four Harmonious Pairings

Red-Blue: Red personalities are big-picture thinkers and Blue types like to dive into the details, so they each handle what the other doesn’t enjoy.

Green-Yellow: Yellow personality types like to come up with ideas but aren’t great with follow-through, and the Green personality will happily carry out the plan.

Blue-Green: Blue and Green personality types both move at a gentle pace and think things through before acting. Neither one will drain the other’s energy through constant chatter.

Red-Yellow: Red and Yellow personalities are both action-driven. The Yellow personality will come up with the idea, and the Red personality will plan the attack.

Two Pairings That Rarely Work

Red-Green: Red and Green personality types have opposite working styles that don’t complement each other. The Red personality will want to start right away, while the Green personality will procrastinate. Red types move at lightning speed, and Greens take their time.

Yellow-Blue: Yellow personalities like to dive into projects and work quickly, never stopping to read directions. People with Blue personalities take their time and plan long before they act. Disagreements about when to start and how fast to work will produce constant friction.

The 8 Best Myers-Briggs Pairings

The Myers-Briggs model lists 16 personality types, which can produce 136 unique pairings. In a collaborative setting, the following eight combinations are considered the best.


ISTJs are analytical problem-solvers who thrive behind the scenes. ESTPs are also analytic but have great people skills.


ISFPs are nurturers who care about the happiness of everyone around them. ESFPs enjoy using their innovation to help others.


Both of these personalities have a passion for detailed, technical work.


Both of these personalities enjoy collaboration and are excellent communicators.


ENFPs and INFJs are both caring individuals who do well in service fields and want to make a difference.


ISFJs and INFPs are both warm and caring introverts.


ENTJs and ISTPs are both hyper-logical. ENTJs are comfortable taking the lead and ISTPs thrive within a set structure.


These personalities are very similar but where the ESFJ is more relational, the ESTJ balances with logic.


What are the lessons from the book Surrounded by Idiots? ›

Lesson #1: What you say is different from what is understood. Lesson #2: You are a RED if you are bold and dominant. Lesson #3: You are a YELLOW if you talk too much. Lesson #4: You are a GREEN if you hate change and love stability in your life.

What do the colors mean in Surrounded by Idiots? ›

In Surrounded by Idiots, Thomas Erikson explains four key behaviour types that define how we interact and perceive people. Reds who are dominant and commanding, Yellows who are social and optimistic, Greens who are laid back and friendly, and Blues who are analytical and detail-oriented.

What are the moral values found in the story 3 Idiots? ›

The result of this study showed that "3 Idiots" movie by Rajkumar Hirani was full of moral value. First, we have to be brave and never give up to get what we want. Second, Do not affraid to talk the thruth to others as long as we are on the right position.

What is the important lesson you learned in the film 3 Idiots? ›

One of the first lessons I learned from “3 Idiots” is that no problem is insurmountable with the right amount of mental self-reassurance.

What are the 4 personality types by color? ›

There are four basic personality types, each with a color that reflects their main characteristics: Dominant Red, Planner Blue, Charismatic Yellow, and Stable Green. All can be exceptional leaders if they work from their strengths. Study some of their characteristics in the graphic below.

What are the 4 color types of personality? ›

The Color Code is based on four types of personality, identified by color: Red, (motivated by power); Blue, (motivated by intimacy); White, (motivated by peace); and Yellow, (motivated by fun).

What are the 4 color personalities? ›

In the book Surrounded by Idiots, colors are used to break down the most common personalities into four categories: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue. Red and Yellow personalities are considered to be extroverted, while the Green and Blue personalities are introverted.

What are the few moral value? ›

There are many different types of moral values, but some of the most important ones include honesty, respect, responsibility, compassion, and forgiveness.

What are the life lessons that you have learned in the movie PK? ›

Though there were several serious messages in the movie, but some of them that can be related in our professional work practices are:
  • Be focused on the end result. ...
  • Be persistent. ...
  • Be observant – take intelligent risks.
  • Be inquisitive – ask questions, challenge status quo.
  • Decipher the chaos - Never give up.
Dec 29, 2014

What color reflects your personality best? ›

Favorite Color Personality Test: In a summary
Favorite ColorPersonality Traits
RedYou are decisive, assertive, driven, and focused on the goals.
BlueYou are good at motivating and communicating ideas with people.
GreenYou love to learn new things and concepts. You abide by high morals while working also.
7 more rows
Dec 17, 2022

What is a Red personality type? ›

Reds. Reds are strong leaders, fast paced thinkers, risk takers, purposeful, drivers, strong-willed, high energy, competitive and rational. You may recognise many of the qualities in many leaders as they take ownership, need to be fast paced in their thinking, take risks and be purposeful and confident with it.

What are the 4 main personality styles? ›

The four temperament theory is a proto-psychological theory which suggests that there are four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.

What color means personality? ›

Red and warm colors in general give a spectrum of feelings ranging from love to aggression. Red is usually seen as the color of love and evokes very strong feelings to people. Blue is typically men's favorite and it is a symbol of calmness and serenity. Blue can also emit sadness and indifference.

What is a gold personality type? ›

Those with Gold color personality strengths tend to be loyal, dependable, organized, thorough, sensible, punctual and caring. They notice and remember facts, like directions and instructions, set deadlines and want them to be met. They enjoy check lists and checking things off the list.

What is a blue personality type? ›

Those with Blue color personality strengths tend to be enthusiastic, sympathetic, communicative, compassionate, idealistic, sincere and imaginative. They care and want to contribute to everything they are a part of. Relationships are important to blues.

What is a white personality type? ›

White color is associated with calm and serene. The purest of all colors, the white, holds clarity, freshness, simplicity and being organized in its traits. People who love white color are often seen to be calm, balanced, fearless, optimist, independent and have a strong opinion.

What do you call a person who loves color white? ›

There's the word Chromatophilia – sometimes used for love of colour generally (alongside, e.g., melanophilia, xanthophilia, leukophilia as love of black, yellow, white, respectively), but doesn't emphasize bright colours in particular.

What is the color for leadership? ›

Yellow is usually identified as an Inspirational leadership style who leads through relationships. They invest in their people and inspire action.

What do you learn from the secret book? ›

1-Sentence-Summary: The Secret is a self-help book by Rhonda Byrne that explains how the law of attraction, which states that positive energy attracts positive things into your life, governs your thinking and actions, and how you can use the power of positive thinking to achieve anything you can imagine.

What is a summary of the whole book out of my mind? ›

Melody Brooks, a 10 year old girl is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She can't walk or talk or do pretty much anything. In the book she gets integrated into mainstream classes with other kids, overcomes her disability, gets to play on a quiz team yet finds out how judgmental and mean other kids can be.

When you read a great book you don t escape from life you plunge deeper into it? ›

“When you read a great book, you don't escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life's subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths.

Is Surrounded by Idiots a good book? ›

Overall, I liked the book and I can recommend surrounded by Idiots to others, but I would advise everyone to be critical while reading it and to be cautious with implementing all the examples given in the book.

What is the main point of The Secret? ›

Here are the 5 primary lessons we get from these books:
  • Attract, Believe, Receive is the formula to make your desires come true.
  • Have the courage to see your dreams.
  • Gratitude helps you feel abundant and attract abundance.
  • Your awareness is the greatest secret you can use to harness the power of thoughts.
Jun 1, 2021

What does The Secret explain? ›

The Secret is a 2006 self-help book by Rhonda Byrne, based on the earlier film of the same name. It is based on the belief of the pseudoscientific law of attraction, which claims that thoughts can change a person's life directly. The book alleges energy as assurance of its effectiveness.

What is the great secret summary? ›

The Great Secret explains that your perception of reality is actually based on an interpretation of what your senses are telling you. Further in the thinking process, your brain records everything it seems and moves it into the subconscious.

What is the main problem in the book Out of My Mind? ›

The main conflict of Out of My Mind centers around Melody's inability to express herself to others because of her physical disability. However, there are many other conflicts that arise between characters, with Melody and herself, and with Melody and the world around her.

What is the main message of the book Out of My Mind? ›

Out of My Mind is a book about the power of language, and it explores in depth the ability of language to forge mutual understanding and shape personal identity. Melody, although she cannot speak, has a rich inner life constructed through her own internal monologue.

What disability does Melody have? ›

Because Melody was born with cerebral palsy, they worry about her getting hurt. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain, and it affects how people move and speak. Melody can't walk or talk.

What is it called when you collect books but don't read them? ›

Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading? If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku - a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature.

What happens to your brain when you read a lot of books? ›

Research shows that regular reading: improves brain connectivity. increases your vocabulary and comprehension. empowers you to empathize with other people.

Why can I read a book and not remember anything? ›

After reading, you may find it almost impossible to retain the information acquired. It may be due to lack of adequate sleep and rest, distractions while reading, poor nutrition, failure to choose the right book, or memory issues such as decay or shallow processing.

What is considered the most boring book ever written? ›

The Most Boring Book Ever Written: An Adventureless Choose-Your-Path Novella by Daniel Pitts, Rudolf Kerkhoven, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

What are the 4 behavior types? ›

A study on human behavior has revealed that 90% of the population can be classified into four basic personality types: Optimistic, Pessimistic, Trusting and Envious.

What age is the prettiest book for? ›

8 - 12 years


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