Despite the book’s title, Talking to Crazy, psychiatrist and business coach Mark Goulston explains upfront that he’s not talking about the mentally ill. He uses this word to describe irrational people, those who might say nonsensical things and make decisions or take actions not in their best interest, or who become hostile when you try to reason with them. An effective tactic when dealing with someone like this is to disarm the person by refusing to get defensive.
In other words, calm them with kindness. Goulston stresses that dealing with irrational people isn’t a one-way street. It’s equally important to recognize the events, comments and situations that might make someone overreact emotionally. Goulston doesn’t just espouse theories; he suggests what to say. For example, when dealing with an argumentative co-worker, an appropriate response would be “I can’t say I like your tone… but… what is it exactly that you are trying to say?” Another version: “What exactly do you want me to start or stop doing so we don’t have this conversation again?” By giving readers the words and theories, Goulston elevates a good book into a great one.
By Mark Goulston
October; AMACOM; $25