Friend & Foe: Better Living Through Social Science Research

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Friend & Foe: Better Living Through Social Science Research by Jonathan A. Knee, DealBook

Academic work in the social sciences often elicits puzzlement from those outside the scholarly realm. Even after one cuts through the layers of technical jargon, the nature of the questions asked can be mystifying.

On the one hand, the lengths to which researchers go to “prove” propositions that seem intuitively obvious to a layman are perplexing. On the other hand, the topics pursued can be so narrow as to be of little apparent use in any complex, real-life situation. More broadly, the entire approach often seems intended to avoid attracting any possible general interest.

This phenomenon is explained partly by the fact that success in academia is achieved by persuading a technical audience of your bona fides, not a general one of your relevance. Indeed, excessive preoccupation with the popular media or practical applications can be viewed as a disqualifying lack of seriousness in an aspiring academic. Distinguished academics toward the end of their careers will sometimes try to produce a more accessible description of their chosen field. More often than not, however, they appear by then to have lost the ability to communicate effectively outside of their professional sphere.

Accordingly, it is usually left to particularly insightful journalists like Malcolm Gladwell to translate these fields of inquiry into a language meaningful to the public. The success of a blockbuster like “Freakonomics,” written by a recognized but relatively young academic, is the exception that proves the rule – and in that case was written with a journalist.

Against this backdrop, “Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both” (Crown Business: 2015) is unusual on a number of levels. Both of the authors, Adam Galinsky (whom I know only by reputation through our mutual affiliation with Columbia Business School) and Maurice Schweitzer, are highly regarded professors still in their 40s who have already produced hundreds of scholarly publications between them.

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Friend & Foe: When To Cooperate, When To Compete, And How To Succeed At Both – Description

Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both by Adam Galinsky

What does it take to succeed? This question has fueled a long-running debate. Some have argued that humans are fundamentally competitive, and that pursuing self-interest is the best way to get ahead. Others claim that humans are born to cooperate and that we are most successful when we collaborate with others.

In Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both, researchers Galinsky and Schweitzer explain why this debate misses the mark. Rather than being hardwired to compete or cooperate, we have evolved to do both. In every relationship, from co-workers to friends to spouses to siblings we are both friends and foes. It is only by learning how to strike the right balance between these two forces that we can improve our long-term relationships and get more of what we want.

Here, Galinsky and Schweitzer draw on original, cutting edge research from their own labs and from across the social sciences as well as vivid real-world examples to show how to maximize success in work and in life by deftly navigating the tension between cooperation and competition. They offer insights and advice ranging from: how to gain power and keep it, how to build trust and repair trust once it’s broken, how to diffuse workplace conflict and bias, how to find the right comparisons to motivate us and make us happier, and how to succeed in negotiations – ensuring that we achieve our own goals and satisfy those of our counterparts.

Along the way, they pose and offer surprising answers to a number of perplexing puzzles: when does too much talent undermine success; why can acting less competently gain you status and authority, where do many gender differences in the workplace really come from, how can you use deception to build trust, and why do you want to go last on American Idol and in many interview situations, but make the first offer when negotiating the sale of a new car.

We perform at our very best when we hold cooperation and competition in the right balance. This book is a guide for navigating our social and professional worlds by learning when to cooperate as a friend and when to compete as a foe—and how to be better at both.

Friend & Foe: When To Cooperate, When To Compete, And How To Succeed At Both – Review

“Galinsky and Schweitzer are star researchers and teachers.  Here they use their talents to bring order to  the often contradictory research on when to cooperate and compete, and they distill their insights into practical tips that anybody can use.” –Chip Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Switch.  

Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both is a fascinating voyage through the science of cooperation and competition. Discover why we compare ourselves to our Facebook friends, many gender differences are really due to power differences, and it’s usually best to make the first offer in a negotiation.” ~Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take

“A treasure trove of golden nuggets of information and gem-like insights into the processes that govern social exchange.  We all have to cooperate and compete to succeed.  Friend & Foe provides the best roadmap I’ve ever seen for doing so—by a mile.” – Robert B. Cialdini, bestselling Author of INFLUENCE
“Two of the most respected scholars on success explain how you can get along and get ahead. Their guided tour of how to cooperate and how to compete is authoritative, entertaining, and eminently practical!” –Angela Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania

“Should you be cooperative or competitive?  Powerful or submissive?
Hierarchical or flat? Honest or dishonest?  As Galinsky and Schweitzer show in this impressive book, the answer to each of these questions is yes!  They use a wide range of research studies coupled with dozens and dozens of colorful real-life examples to show us that simple answers to complicated questions are not to be trusted and that the secret to success is balance. This book will make you a better colleague, a better negotiator and a better person. – Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice” and “Practical Wisdom

“Whether it’s a boardroom negotiation or a breakfast table squabble, should we fight fiercely to get our way or compromise to keep the peace? Filled with captivating stories and cutting-edge science, Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both delivers an entertaining and practical guide that details why this is a false dichotomy. Galinsky and Schweitzer offer innovative solutions for managing the myriad conflicts that populate our daily lives.” – Linda Babcock, Author of Women Don’t Ask

“A fascinating read, and an eye-opening look at how we navigate an increasingly complex social world. Meticulously researched, filled with compelling real world anecdotes, Friend & Foe is a unique and vastly entertaining roadmap to improving relationships and resolving conflicts- at work, at home, and in life.”-  Ben Mezrich, NY times bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires and Once Upon A Time in Russia

“A terrific book—full of fascinating and gee-whizzy studies and insights, with genuinely useful lessons for readers. It combines the best elements of a Malcolm Gladwell or Freakonomics book with the usefulness of smarter/better business books.” – Scott Stossel, Editor of the Atlantic Magazine and author of My Age of Anxiety

Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both is one of the best works of popular social science I’ve read in a long time. This book is packed with so many deep insights and shrewd takeaways, I grew exhausted from taking notes!” – Daniel Pink, bestselling author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

“At first glance, this book looks like a quick, light read, yet it is anything but. Coauthors Galinsky (Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business, Columbia Business Sch., Columbia Univ.) and Schweitzer (Cecilia Yen Koo Professor of Operations, Information & Decisions, Wharton Sch., Univ. of Pennsylvania) have packed their book full of references to research across multiple fields (management, psychology, economics, etc.) and real-life examples using historical and current events and case studies. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of human relations in which the choice between competing and collaborating can make an important difference, answering such questions as: How can we use social comparisons to our advantage (e.g., both to make us feel happier about ourselves and to push ourselves to achieve more)? What strategies can we employ to ensure that we are open enough to reap the rewards of cooperation but not so trusting that we risk exploitation? Chapters conclude with a section called “Finding the Right Balance,” which sums up how to operate as the right mix of friend and foe in the context of the relationship being described.

Full of tips and useful advice, this title will appeal to a broad audience as well as to avid readers of business how-to.” —Sara Holder, McGill Univ. Libs., Montreal


Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both by Adam Galinsky

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