A self-help book designed to make people aware of why and how they frequently make erroneous snap judgments about the people with whom they interact.
Written by an executive coach grounded in organizational learning, the book embraces a breezy, conversational approach to its subject matter and aims to shine a light on how automatic thought processes often steer people in dangerous directions and how people can gain control of those thought processes to achieve more positive results. A facile and entertaining author, Powers quickly introduces readers to the four steps of what she terms “the Rat Brain Loop” and settles right down to the business of presenting example after example of how predictable—and often wrongheaded—this familiar pathway tends to be. Basing much of her analysis on her own experiences and those of her colleagues, Powers’ numerous anecdotes about the Rat Brain in action bear a stamp of familiarity that many readers will easily identify with. Virtually anyone who works in a corporate environment has, at some point, misinterpreted a coworker’s gestures or comments (or lack thereof) and, believing in the absolute correctness of misinterpretation, gone on to compound the error by basing future action on the original misconception. Powers hopes to slow that process down and show how people tend to base their conclusions on a highly limited amount of information, define the meaning of that information based on their personal histories, immediately attach a label that may forever limit the possibility of a more productive outcome and, finally, take decisive action based on the entire series of earlier miscues. A large part of what Powers hopes to get across can be summed up easily enough—thought before action. But the myriad examples of how one can fall into the Rat Brain Loop amply illustrate how crucial it is for people to take a close look at some of their dearest assumptions about the people with whom they work every day. Changing those ingrained habits of thought may not be quite as easy as Powers suggests, but identifying them is nonetheless a great place to start.
An easy, engaging read that provides readers with a better understanding of their idiosyncratic thought processes.