Friday, April 3, 2009

A Survival Guide for Working With Humans

I was hoping for more from A Survival Guide for Working With Humans (Gini Graham Scott, 2004) than I actually got out of it. It's a series of case studies discussing common interpersonal and ethical dilemmas in the workplace and how one might navigate through them. Most of the solutions seemed like common sense to me, and I guess I was hoping for some deep insight into human nature or something. Also, the advice tended toward how to go along to get along, which is all very well much of the time, but sometimes you do have to make a stand for who you are and what you believe in.

There was one case where she recommended a course I thought unethical, with a comment along the lines of "Business is like war, and you wouldn't see a general being so fussy about ethics." I disagreed with both parts. At least, neither the industry that currently employs me nor the one I dream of making a living in are inherently zero-sum games where we need to take out our competition. E.g. I hope the already-published authors whose work is closest to mine continue to prosper, because they're building an appetite in their fans for the same type of story, setting, and characters that I write. And as for generals being fussy about ethics...well, what she probably meant is that no self-respecting general would sacrifice a numerical or tactical advantage out of some misguided sense of chivalry. Which is true. But the way she phrased it made it sound like she didn't believe in just war, that generals could be honorable, ethical people, and so on. Not the kind of thing I could read without grumbling while also in the middle of a biography of Michel Ney!

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