Friend & Foe: a book review

Categories: Career, Reviews

I’m always looking for ways to improve myself.

So imagine when this Advance Reader Copy of Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both, popped up at my cubicle at work; after receiving package after package of young adult fiction from the Young to Publishing Group, I finally, finally, get a book that immediately intrigues me.

Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both
ISBN: 9780307720214 | 320 pp. | Hardcover

Upon initial impressions, the book cover is safe. But I think I get what Crown Business was going for; their target audience is, as the imprint’s name suggests, business professionals. They’re not for flashy covers but something that looks powerful, clean, and serious.

Luckily, the writing is powerful and clean without being too serious. Both authors Adam Galinsky & Maurice Schweitzer do a great job co-authoring– a prime example of what their book preaches when cooperating.

I was pleasantly surprised with the premise of the book. The authors gave useful insight into the psyche of others and how we generally interact with and react to one another.

They talk about why and when people compete (i.e., see others as foes), versus why and when people cooperate (i.e., become friends with others), to achieve their goals. At certain points of the book, it felt like the authors were trying too hard to stretch their examples to fit into the mold of this “friend & foe” concept. But these were few and far between.

The book delves into different topics concerning cooperation and competition, but a highly important section that requires highlighting is gender inequalities.

We all know that gender inequalities exist, but did you know that Queen Bees — women in high-status positions who are surrounded by very few or no other women in a group — also propagate unfair behavior towards other professional women? I found that fascinating, but also unfortunate. In the professional workplace where cooperation should come naturally (i.e., women helping level the playing field for other women), sometimes it turns fiercely competitive.

Of course, the authors talk about other aspects of gender inequality and how it directly impacts females’ ability to cooperate and compete (the Queen Bee example was just the most striking to me). Anyone who plans to work in any professional setting (i.e., everybody) should absolutely read this particular section on gender inequality because the authors touch on so many important issues and disadvantages that women face, sometimes well before they’re even interviewed for a job. As a young female professional, I want to know what odds I’m up against, whether in an interview or even at a current job. This book is a bit like career reconnaissance; by scoping out the playing field you’re given the chance to adapt while avoiding any hazards along the way.

The overarching theme I found throughout the book was power. When we want to cooperate, we give and take power, but when we’re competing, we want to take power– take control of a situation and steer it in our favor. I learned a lot more than I thought I would from reading Friend & Foe, and when framing our relationships with others in terms of power, understanding others’ motivations to cooperate or compete with them becomes an easy exercise.

Sometimes this type of psychology/business/self-help book gets too gimmicky or too academic, but I didn’t get either vibe at all while reading this book; I never felt like I was dragging my feet while reading this book. Friend & Foe has references to studies, sure, but that’s how you know what you’re reading is backed by substance and is not just an opinion piece. If anything, this book reads as if your good friend were taking you out for drinks and advice. I highly recommend reading for some helpful insight to develop your interpersonal skills.

Headline image: Original photo by Chris Davis. Public domain via Unsplash.

Disclaimer: I received an Advance Reader Copy of Friend & Foe as a member of the Young to Publishing Group (YPG). I was not required to review this book, and any recommendations are made voluntarily. Any views or opinions express are my own. This disclosure is posted in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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