Solving People Problems

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This self-help product is for individuals working on "building positive, enjoyable relationships" at work or coping with challenging situations in the work-place and is intended to "help businesspeople master those tricky people-managing skills." In informal language and with a practice-oriented approach, it offers the possibility of positive outcomes and an understanding of one's own locus of control in situations where blame, rationalization, defensiveness, and distortion might otherwise dominate. The book includes Creating Positive Relationships, Dealing with Difficult Situations, and Dealing with Difficult People, with chapters devoted to skill sets in that area (e.g., Learning To Negotiate, Maneuvering Around the Obstacle Course, Living with Anger and Conflict). Chapters open with "interviews" followed by the author's guidance. An index and a brief bibliography are included, and the straightforward prose is readable and down to earth. But it's the disc here that merits your attention, as much for presentation as for content. It, too, has a three-part structure, though its sections reflect a more experiential approach: "How can I improve my work relationships?" "How can I deal with these situations?" "How should I handle these people?" The disc invites a sequential navigational approach through scenarios (though the user can move around at will). Those who like to search for particular topics, tools, or strategies can use the Find a Topic option under Help (although this useful little feature could be more prominently displayed). The opening screen of each section offers a summary of issues and a selection of four scenarios to follow. Readers click on a scenario to get at more in-depth topics, including behavioral specifics and clickable links offering information on tools and skills. Then the stage is set with fade-in cartoon-like images of the players in the scenario. Dialog boxes and questionnaires invite user participation (responses entered in the dialog boxes can be saved to a notepad for future reference). The dynamics at work in the scenario are analyzed, then the scenario is played out more positively in a second take. What makes this work is the overall high quality of the disc's content and its function in clarifying for users what their approaches might be. It serves as an electronic sounding board--an advisor available in the safety of one's cubicle. It is dynamic and engaging, differentiating it from many self-help publications. A few niggling criticisms: the elevator bar in the introductory material races by at the click of the down arrow making it difficult to read the text; also, there are places in "what to do" sections where the advice falls short (e.g., dealing with a controlling manager by becoming a moving target or taking on cynics by trumping their remarks with your own). Some of this material is recycled: a cover statement acknowledges that the disc "contains interactive scenarios adapted from the AMACOM book Working with Difficult People." The Bottom Line: Polish Your People Skills is suggested for businesspeople focused on the workplace, but we see a broader context for application in all sorts of library settings. Recommended for human resource professionals seeking alternative approaches to training and staff development as well as to the libraries that serve them.--Mary Beth Clack, Staff Development, and Laura Farwell Blake, Research Svcs., Harvard Coll. Lib. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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