BOOK REVIEW: Your Brain at Work
by Dr. David Rock
ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):
A researcher and consultant burrows deep inside the heads of one modern two-career couple to examine how each partner processes the workday—revealing how a more nuanced understanding of the brain can allow us to better organize, prioritize, recall, and sort our daily lives.
Emily and Paul are the parents of two young children, and professionals with different careers. Emily is the newly promoted vice president of marketing at a large corporation; Paul works from home or from clients’ offices as an independent IT consultant. Their days are filled with a bewildering blizzard of emails, phone calls, more emails, meetings, projects, proposals, and plans. Just staying ahead of the storm has become a seemingly insurmountable task.
In Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock goes inside Emily and Paul’s brains to see how they function as each attempts to sort, prioritize, organize, and act on the vast quantities of information they receive in one typical day. Dr. Rock is an expert on how the brain functions in a work setting. By analyzing what is going on in their heads, he offers solutions Emily and Paul (and all of us) can use to survive and thrive in today’s hyperbusy work environment—and still feel energized and accomplished at the end of the day.
In Your Brain at Work, Dr. Rock explores issues such as:
- why our brains feel so taxed, and how to maximize our mental resources
- why it’s so hard to focus, and how to better manage distractions
- how to maximize the chance of finding insights to solve seemingly insurmountable problems
- how to keep your cool in any situation, so that you can make the best decisions possible
- how to collaborate more effectively with others
- why providing feedback is so difficult, and how to make it easier
- how to be more effective at changing other people’s behavior
- and much more.
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In Your Brain at Work, Dr. David Rock sets out to help readers understand what goes on in the complicated inner workings of our brains which causes us to behave in the ways that we do.
I love this quote:
“By understanding your brain, you increase your capacity to change your brain.” – Dr. David Rock, Your Brain at Work (https://amzn.to/3tvklQT)Tweet
The more in-tune you are with what is going on in your brain, i.e. what is causing your stress, distractedness, defensiveness, or whatever, the more prepared you can be to approach situations differently and affect better results.
I’ll be honest, I got a little lost whenever the explanations started getting into technical scientific terminology: norepinephrine, noradrenaline, prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, limbic system. (I was not a science major for a reason!) Dr. Rock also uses a metaphor throughout the book of the brain being like a theater with the actors on stage, the audience and the director. Although this was intended to be helpful, it was hard for me to follow in relation to everything else. Maybe I can blame it on my brain…?
What was helpful, however, were the real life scenarios that Dr. Rock uses throughout the book to make the complicated explanations more easily digestible. Every chapter starts with a story. We follow two characters, a husband and wife, through their days at work (and at home). We get to see the challenges and decisions each of them face throughout their day and their interactions with other people at work and home. The examples are very relatable.
After each story about a specific event Dr. Rock then breaks down what is happening within the character’s brain which causes the outcome (often like a domino effect). He provides scientific explanations, but also breaks that down in a way that is easier to understand. Finally, he wraps up each chapter with a replayed scenario of the character in the same situation but approaching it differently given the understanding they/we now have of what is going on within their brain.
I probably need to read the book a second time in order to gain a better understanding and apply the learnings, particularly chapter 8 where he breaks down four main types of reappraisal. However, overall I found the book fascinating!
“Microscopic changes in brain functioning, made in a hundredth of a second, can sometimes create massive change in people’s lives.” – Dr. David Rock, Your Brain at Work (https://amzn.to/3tvklQT)Tweet
“Research shows that people who see life through slightly rose-colored glasses do in fact seem to be the happiest. And happy people perform better at many types of work.” – Dr. David Rock, Your Brain at Work (https://amzn.to/3tvklQT)Tweet