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The Game of Life

Turning Conflict into Cooperation

Want to know if you are a smart player or just an unwitting victim in dealing with the games people play? Dr. Jim Murray may have the answers. I found his insights and examples on how to turn conflict into cooperation to be personally relevant and useful, especially in the today’s changing workplace where customers and knowledge workers can be especially demanding.

The structure of the book adds to its value. Murray begins by establishing the premise for “life as a game” and clearly indicates its purpose and relevance in important business and interpersonal relationships. Getting people to align with your needs and interests is the name of the game. He then proceeds to lay out the rules that we tend to accumulate through these difficult encounters, largely through trial and error. Murray wants us to avoid those errors.

I found the most helpful part of the book to be the player profiles – thirteen compelling social-psychological profiles of what makes the most challenging players tick and the tactics that motivate them to change their insensitive behaviors. As Murray demonstrates, true to rule #4 (“if you don’t know who you’re playing, you cannot play their game”), each one possesses an Achilles’ heel that is vulnerable to a critical manouevre designed to accomplish your objective.

Murray’s observations on power, creativity, listening and confrontation, based on decades of research and teaching courses on influence psychology, conflict management and negotiating are worth reading. But his advice on how to gain a competitive advantage in a win-win way is what should make this book a business classic. His observations on the game are worth reflection. He tells us “we have a natural predisposition to filter our encounters with people through our past experiences. We perceive and react to stereotypical behaviours rather than seeing the other person with fresh eyes and a thinking mind every time we meet. We do not look for insights that highlight the individualism of the people with whom we play the game. We do not benefit from our awareness of player prototypes. Rather, we allow ourselves to be creatures of habit and we react accordingly.”

Most of us have learned the rules of the game from sometimes bitter experience. This book tries to eliminate the pain. The real purpose of The Game of Life, I believe, is to level the playing field. For that reason alone, I can heartily recommend the book.

- T. J. Reidel, CEO  (Automotive Parts Manufacturer)

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