Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thinking Without Thinking

Call it a woman’s intuition…but we all have it. A hunch. First impressions. Making a decision, either right or wrong, takes place within about two seconds. (I sort of met my husband that way, but that’s another story.)

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is about those two seconds. The kind of thinking that happens within the blink of an eye. Where your mind reaches a series of conclusions, you are indeed thinking. That’s what this book is about. We can also improve on this kind of thinking.

You might wonder how thinking that takes place so quickly be at all useful. Don’t we need time to evaluate data? Not to mention gather the facts. Haven’t we all heard “Don’t jump to conclusions”? But, there are situations, under stress or pressure, when snap judgments make sense. This book explores several situations where this scenario takes place. The Emergency Room at a Chicago hospital is just one. The hospital wanted their doctors to gather less information on their patients. Instead, they were to zero in on just a few pieces of information. Their results have been so successful, to draw international attention about how to successfully diagnosis illness.

Whether we realize it or not, our minds are capable of gathering bits of information simultaneously. It is the unconscious mind at work. He calls it “thin slicing.” Sifting through a situation, throwing out the irrelevant while zeroing in on what really matters. In sports, it’s called “court sense.” One way or another, we all do it. But … we can improve how well we do it.

For example, how do people “read” us? We can hear our voice, but we can’t see our face. Whenever we experience a basic emotion, that emotion is automatically expressed by the facial muscles. It may be only for a fraction of a second, but it is there. Ever heard of someone having a “poker face”? They have tried to control some of these muscles. But guess what … all of our muscles react. Watching and paying attention to these involuntary actions can help you make a good two- second decision.

Can you make bad decisions within two seconds? Oh yeah. In fact, that is why Malcolm Gladwell wrote the book to begin with. He grew his hair long. Looked like a middle age hippie. He got pulled out for profiling at airport security. Police accused him of committing a crime. In fact, the wanted descriptions looked nothing like him.

Did you know that all of the Fortune 500 CEOs are tall? Tall people are not smarter. But they are thought of that way. When Tom Hanks tried out for his first acting job, the director picked him out instantly. Why? He has that look we all can associate with.

is about us. How we think without thinking. And it is fun. It gives so many examples from real life. Hints of what to look for. So whether you want to go speed dating or win a major battle, read Blink. It really makes you think!

Look for Blink at Main and Avoca, call number 155.44 GLA.

Reviewed by Susan Wolfe

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