Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

Part II. Interpersonal Rethinking – Opening Other People’s Minds

5. Dances with Foes: How to Win Debates and Influence People

  • Here we find suggestions for doing well in negotiations. First, look for areas of agreement and point them out. This can be disarming. Be careful about putting too many reasons on the table as it will be easier to attack the shakiest one. Be sure to adopt a scientist’s level of humility and curiosity and look for ways that both sides can be better off. Establish that you too have the right motives. Think of it as kind of a dance where you take turns leading.
  • If you make too many points it will be easy for the other person to find weak ones. A few strong points usually beat a lot of points. Since the person with the best chance to change your mind is you, it’s important to ask a lot of questions for your opponent to ponder. Acknowledging their valid points also helps. Adam provides a hierarchy of disagreement that has name-calling at the bottom of a pyramid and refuting the central point at that top. He also provides some examples from his own experience.

6. Bad Blood on the Diamond: Diminishing Prejudice by Destabilizing Sereotypes

  • Generally speaking, stereotypes are arbitrary. Adam uses baseball fans as an example. When you point out that a fan is essentially cheering for the clothes as team members come and go it can help them see the arbitrary nature of their fandom. After a person sees the Earth from space, their world view becomes much more global and less national as there are no lines on the Earth. Many strongly held beliefs rest on shaky foundations. Applying group stereotypes to individuals is absurd. There is typically more variation within groups than between them. Intergroup communication has been shown to reduce prejudice. If you want to open someone’s mind you have to talk to them. Beware of family traditions that make you a Boston fan and a Yankee hater or a white supremacist.

7. Vaccine Whisperers and Mild-Mannered Interrogators: How the Right Kind of Listening Motivates People to Change

  • The central premise of Motivational Interviewing is that we can rarely motivate someone else to change. Rather, we have to help them find their own motivation to change. You hold up a mirror so they can see themselves more clearly. This empowers them to examine their beliefs and behaviors. The three steps are #1. Ask open-ended questions. #2. Engage in active listening. #3. Affirm the person’s desire and ability to change. This practice is well-researched and used around the world. It can be effective for consultants, doctors, therapists, teachers, and coaches.
  • Interacting with an empathetic, nonjudgmental, attentive listener makes people less anxious and defensive. They feel less pressure to avoid contradictions in their thinking. Great listeners are more interested in making their audiences feel smart. They help people approach their own views with more humility, doubt, and curiosity. When people have a chance to express themselves out loud, they often discover new thoughts. Giving people the space to reflect on their views is a display of respect and an expression of care. These are essential qualities for influencers.
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