Beyond Bullsh*t: Straight-Talk at Work

Samuel A. Culbert, Author Stanford University Press $24.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8047-5885-7
In this sober guide to understanding and moving past ""bullsh*t"" at work, author and management professor Culbert (Don't Kill the Bosses!) explains the value of and strategy behind ""straight-talk relationships"" in the office. Culbert takes the first few chapters to look at the situation-specific, self-reflexive, persuasive subspecies of lying in all its permutations: ""insincere to sincere, nonsensical to serious, innocuous to harmful, tactical to strategic, tension reducing to tension raising."" Unlike others who have tackled the subject (most notably Harry Frankfurt), Culbert emphasizes bullsh*t's vital role in many situations; bullsh*t becomes a problem, he asserts, when it gives the weight of objectivity, authority or rationality to self-serving proposals meant to advance a personal agenda, often to the detriment of the bullsh*tee. Culbert then explores the straight-talk relationship, in which parties openly admit their self-interest and work with honesty, trust and mutual understanding to achieve common goals for themselves and the organization. Culbert looks at ""I-speak,"" a familiar but powerful communication technique, as well as specific strategies for improving relationships with the boss (calling for an end to the annual pay-and-performance review), creating new straight-talk relationships and understanding others through ""truth-finding."" Though at times he pushes the jargon a bit too hard, Culbert includes just enough real-world anecdotal backup to make his direct, perceptive appeal for practical workplace honesty a no-brainer.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
Hardcover - 152 pages - 978-0-7494-5319-0
Paperback - 152 pages - 978-0-8047-7177-1
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