Not that anyone should needs a book on how to be nice to other people, but it so easy to forget that it is nice to have a reminder now and then. The Compassionate Geek sets the tone with a simple I.T. "Heroes" and "Villains" exercise. One section asks readers to list their best and worse experiences, while the other asks the reasons why each ranked the way it did. Even I.T. people have had to deal with unhelpful customer support, and the exercise acts as a nice reflection to springboard into the rest of the book.
From there the book sets up a simple foundation for providing great customer support by listing four intrinsic traits all I.T. professionals should exhibit: empathy, compassion, listening and respect. These ideas are simple no-brainers, but items we all forget.
These ideas carry throughout the rest of the book. Some get their own chapters, while others pop up in every chapter. The core idea reiterated in each chapter is that customer service is all about putting the customer first and making their experience as enjoyable as possible. It is good, common sense business, but after actually trying out some of the suggested exercises, I can say it is a great daily stress reducer.
Like everyone else, there are people I don't get along with at work. In the past, I took the low road approach and treated them with the least amount of respect possible. As The Compassionate Geek points out, everyone deserves respect regardless of how you feel about them personally. This concept alone rockets The Compassionate Geek from simple I.T. help book to something everyone could benefit from reading. I've already seen a small improvement in my relationships with people and I feel better because of it.
The book is incredibly short, and can probably be finished in a day. It's also an easy read. Ideas are explained in plain English, even the psychology behind some of the ideas. It's something anyone can read, even student I.T. workers with no interest in reading. However, to get the most from its lessons, you need to complete the short exercises included in some chapters. Some require filling out boxes; others are simple reflections. All will make your think.
The "thinking" requirement is probably the book's greatest weakness. Although anyone can read the book and do the exercises, like any self-improvement book, it requires active participation from the reader to actually get something out of it. As far as I know, soundtraining.net lacks the cadre of stormtroopers required to enforce its teachings, so it is really up to the reader.
If there is one underlying thought throughout The Compassionate Geek, it is to follow "Wheaton's Law " in all aspects of your life. A good subscript to that thought might be, "Be Excellent to Each Other." Even if you aren't in a field where customer support is your primary duty, we're all in the support business. The Compassionate Geek does a great job of pointing out the simple things everyone can do to be a better person.