Dr. Lina W. Liken with Cali Blalock. The 5 Secrets to Social Success with Biblical Principles. Bloomington: Westbow Press, 2014. See here to buy the book.
As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, I can use guidance on how to interact with people. So can a lot of people, even those who are not on the autism spectrum. Many young people today are so used to texting and Facebook, that they may need guidance on how to interact face-to-face. As one of the book’s recommenders said, there are people with substance abuse problems who may need help with social interaction.
The 5 Secrets to Social Success with Biblical Principles offers some good advice. It talks about eye contact and why it is important. It also talks about the importance of listening to others. It offers biblical prooftexts, some of which are relevant, and some of which are connected rather tenuously with the point at hand.
I was rather ambivalent about some of its advice. For example, it says that, if we offend someone else in a disagreement, we should say to the person that we are sorry that we hurt his or her feelings. I doubt that the other person would receive that very well. The offended person may think that we are treating him or her as a little kid, or that we are implying that he or she is the one with the problem. Maybe a better thing to say would be: “I am sorry if I said what I said in an offensive manner.” At least the book got me thinking about this issue and shed light on where I may have gone wrong in the past.
The book offered advice on what is not good material for conversation, and there is wisdom in what it said. Granted, gossip can create bonds between people, but there is a downside to it. Not only is it unloving, but what will happen if the person you’re talking about overhears your gossip, or somehow learns about it?
The book could have offered more advice, however, on how to have an appropriate conversation. What is acceptable humor to use? What are some good ice-breakers?
The book did present two examples of conversation, one that contains idle talk, and the other which exemplifies what the book is advocating. The former conversation looked realistic to me. The latter conversation, in which people were formally quoting Bible verses to each other, did not so much. At the same time, the latter conversation did make a good point: that maybe we should think of ways to help others as opposed to shredding them behind their backs.
The book may be helpful in a small-group setting. There, people can get into the specifics of what to do and what not to do. By itself, the book makes good points, but it is inadequate.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.