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The Game Of Life

Author: Jim Murray

Publisher: 1998


Summary:If life is a game, how do you play it? What are the rules and who makes them? Who are the master players? Are you a player or an unwitting victim?

If life is a game, how do you play it? What are the rules and who makes them? Who are the master players? Are you a player or an unwitting victim?

Jim Murray has the answers in his new book entitled The Game of Life. And it’s packed in reader friendly words with both conventional wisdom and the insights he’s accumulated over 30 years as a professional negotiator, advertising executive and academic — an eclectic career that adds to the richness of his stories of sample encounters in the game.

The structure of the book adds to its value. Murray begins by establishing the premise: getting people to align with your needs is the name of the game. He then proceeds to lay out the rules for turning situations of conflict into opportunities for cooperation in important business and interpersonal relationships. The rules are largely unwritten in real life but are accumulated through trial and error. Murray wants us to avoid the errors.

I found the most useful part of the book to be the player profiles — 14 socio-psychological outlines of what makes the most challenging players tick. As Murray demonstrates, true to his rule #4 ("if you don’t know who you’re playing, you cannot play their game") every player possesses an Achilles’ heel, the point of vulnerability that enables you to accomplish your objective.

Murray’s observations based on two decades of research and teaching courses on influence psychology, conflict management and negotiating are worth several reads. But his insights on how to gain a competitive advantage over the other players in a win-win way are what will make this book a business classic. He tells us that "we have a natural predisposition to filter our encounters with people through past experiences. We 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 an awareness of player prototypes. Rather, we allow ourselves to be creatures of habit."

Most of us learn the rules of the game from experience, often painful. This book eliminates the pain. It provides the guidelines and principles we need to enhance significant relationships. These are players we can meet at anytime — the wafflers, whiners, tough guys, bullies, manipulators, know-it-alls, bureaucrats and dinosaurs who can make us feel miserable and resentful. No more. The Game of Life evens the playing field. I highly recommend this important new book.

In the age of the Internet, it is also refreshing to see that The Game of Life is on line. You can visit the companion web site at to review excerpts, play part of the game or order the book. Check it out for yourself.