BLINK – Book Review

Michele Richman | September 8, 2010

During the entire period, I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book BLINK, anyone around me would hear me exclaim to myself, “Wow”, “That is so interesting” or “Unbelievable”.  The first part of the book is about thin slicing, which demonstrates that some of the best decisions are made quickly or with little data as opposed to with lots of debate, research and analysis.  Gladwell discusses the notion of the adaptive unconscious where our minds are a kind of giant computer that quickly and quietly process a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings.  Some of the most interesting examples of thin slicing include:

  • A psychologist John Gottman realized that by observing married couples discussing issues in their marriage during a 15 minute period, his success rate for predicting whether or not they would divorce or stay married was 90%;
  • Strangers who had 15 minutes to observe a room of a college student were just as accurate in describing the individuals’ personality as the person’s close friends;
  • A great way to evaluate whether or not a physician will be sued for malpractice is to listen to snippets of their conversations with patients.

To translate this to the work environment, it shows us the importance of trusting our instincts and gut reactions when making decisions ranging from hiring an employee and closing a sale to choosing a new green screen for our presenters.  I will write future posts about the other sections of the book, 1) when our unconscious fails us and we make wrong snap decisions and 2) how snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled.

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