Think Again Book Review, Summary, and Notes



What is Think Again by Adam Grant about?

The book is about recognizing how much time we spend thinking and forming our thoughts and how less time we spend on not even going back and evaluating them although we live in a rapidly changing world. Adam Grant conveys the importance of rethinking our easily-formed opinions and explains how to reconsider them and spread the same strategy to the people around us. Grant explains them in three steps: individual rethinking, interpersonal rethinking, and collective rethinking.

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. We often form our opinions easily but rarely reconsider them.
  2. We don't always need to think more and more about many topics; rethinking can solve many of our problems once we open our minds to change.
  3. Creating a learning environment and surrounding ourselves with open-minded people demands changing how we approach people around us.

🎨 Impressions

The book is easy to read. It sparked moments when I closed the book and needed to think about what I had read. Although the reading was enjoyable, I deem the text long. I understand that the narrative is important, and it makes reading fun; I came to the point of skimming one or two stories instead of reading them fully. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Every book and each chapter demands a different reading style. With all that, I liked the idea the book brings: rethinking. Adam Grand didn't just say rethink what you think but went onto a journey and explained the psychology around rethinking. So, the book is more prosperous than I expected. It could've been shorter, but it's not too long either.

Who Should Read It?

People who want to create a learning environment, especially leaders.

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life/behavior/thoughts/ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.
  • After reading the first chapter, I began recognizing my behavior in different parts of my life (work, personal). At work, I realized I play all the four mindsets mentioned in the chapter (preacher, prosecutor, politician, scientist). However, I'm more of a preacher and prosecutor than a politician at home.
  • After reading, I feel like I can be a better leader if I apply a few things from the book to my work: using motivational interviewing when I debate ideas, coaching people better by asking more questions, etc.
  • I also understood, once more, the importance of keeping debates on talking about how to do a certain thing instead of why we do it. As a leader, I have a stronger self-argument to think the why more clearly.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes from Think Again

  • "If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom."
  • "Who you are should be a question of what you value, not what you believe."
  • "We won't have much luck changing other people's minds if we refuse to change ours."

📒 Think Again Chapter Summary + Notes

A Preacher, a Prosecutor, a Politician, and a Scientist Walk into Your Mind

  • We see other people's behavior while seeing our intention. When someone misses the point or needs to rethink their approach, we swiftly recognize that. When it comes to our own ideas, we favor feeling right over being right. We often don't form second opinions while expecting them from others.
  • Adapting to a changing environment is not something companies do. It is something people do. Many people become experts in their fields and stay there without changing their stance or knowledge stack. The comfort zone makes them vulnerable to change. However, the bests adapt to changing environments with their everyday decisions.
  • Preacher-Prosecutor-Politician Mindsets:
    • Preacher: When our beliefs are in jeopardy, we begin preaching to protect and promote our ideas.
    • Prosecutor: When we recognize other people's flaws in their arguments, we prosecute them and try to prove them wrong.
    • Politician: When we seek to win the audience, we lobby and campaign our beliefs and ideas for approval.
  • Scientific Thinking:
    • Thinking like a scientist (experimentation, skepticism, and reconsidering the approach) forces us to reconsider our stand all the time. Although scientists don't always apply scientific thinking in their lives, the method works. When we think we're smart, we change our minds less (confirmation and desirability bias). Scientific thinking is not only reconsidering, it is also being skeptical; searching for what might be wrong when everything is normal.
"If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom."
"Our convictions can lock us in prisons of our own making. The solution is not to decelerate our thinking—it's to accelerate our rethinking."

The Armchair Quarterback and the Imposter: Finding the Sweet Spot for Confidence

  • The most successful leaders have both humility and confidence. They believe in their strengths; they are also aware of their weaknesses. They can change their minds when they are proven wrong.
  • Feeling like an imposter (imposter syndrome) has also its advantages:
    1. Motivates us to work harder. (naturally)
    2. Motivates us to work smarter. If we don't believe we're going to win, we have nothing to lose to rethink our approach.
    3. It makes us better learners—the doubt of not knowing opens us to learn from others.

The Joy of Being Wrong: The Thrill of Not Believing Everything You Think

  • Our previous knowledge and beliefs make us less open to new things. That's why we often hear "That's not how we do things here." phrases. When we haven't formed any beliefs, we are more open to being wrong. We're open to change because we're learning. When we have expertise in one topic, it's difficult to walk away from our beliefs even if they are foolish.
"Who you are should be a question of what you value, not what you believe."
  • When we define ourselves, it's crucial to think about what we are tying up our identity to. Materials and monetary stuff are not always a good idea. When a person explains themselves with things they own, they will have difficulties changing their identities. On top of that, when people define themselves with opinions rather than values, they also lose flexibility. As they will tie their identity to a certain idea (such as supporting one party's ideas in politics), they will defend these ideas more and more and become inflexible. Wherever we put our identity defines our adaptability to changes around us.
  • We often don't change our beliefs or ideas quickly. We usually defend them, although we form them very quickly. When we form opinions, we don't even think about why we might be wrong. Even thinking once about a possible reason we might be wrong will improve our ideas, show us our weaknesses, and break our overconfidence.
  • Thinking in the long term has a prolonged impact. When we focus on being right in this moment and stick to our thoughts all the time, we increase the risk of being wrong in the long run. When we're flexible with our opinions, we feel comfortable changing them to being right in the long term.
  • Admitting we were wrong is considered a weakness by many people. However, that's what makes us strong. When we admit we were wrong, we eliminate other people mocking or publicly shaming us. We become untouchable. Admitting our mistakes makes us powerful.
  • When something is wrong, there is no need to blame whose fault it is or whose responsibility that mistake is. What matters is it's our responsibility to fix that. When that mistake is in our mind, there is no other person than us to correct or change that mistaken opinion.

The Good Fight Club: The Psychology of Constructive Criticism

  • Relationship conflicts are worse than task conflicts. When people have relationship conflicts, they focus on topics unrelated to work. Their criticism of each other is based on how they behave toward each other. In task conflicts, people focus on the work, and their goal is to find out the best way to do the work. Task conflicts are necessary. Without conflicts, there is no harmony; there is only apathy.
  • When in task conflicts, we learn from the other side. We learn from people who challenge our thought processes. When we avoid arguments, it doesn't mean that we have good manners; it means we ignore the other side's views and don't value their perspectives.
  • People like others who agree with their perspective more. However, when we say "agree to disagree," we actually avoid these thoughts and put up walls around our ideas. If someone is challenging our thoughts, it means they value our opinion. We need to create cooperative groups that can disagree with each other while showing respect for each other.
  • When people argue about why they should do something in one way or another, they cannot bring out the best solutions, and the discussions end up in relationship conflicts. They should have one common why and argue over how to do it. When discussions happen over how to part, the conflicts tend to stay as task conflicts and be productive. That's why it's crucial to have leaders who clarify the why so that people can focus on the how part.

Dances with Foes: How to Win Debates and Influence People

  • Debates are not wars that we have to fight constantly; they are more like a dance in that we have to move back and forth and create harmony. We have to carefully listen and find common arguments and agree with some of the other side's arguments. We need to step back and acknowledge their valid points instead of constantly supporting our argument with more reasons. We shouldn't go into either defense or offense mode, we have to see the debate as dance and use stronger and fewer reasons
"We won't have much luck changing other people's minds if we refuse to change ours."
"We don't have to convince them that we're right. We just need them to open their minds to the possibility that they might be wrong. Their natural curiosity will do the rest."
  • To change other people's minds, we have to present humility, acknowledge their valid points (so we are reasonable), and ask questions to open their minds. The best negotiators ask many questions—more than average negotiators.
  • In any heated argument, we can stop and ask, "What evidence would change your mind?"
  • People are interested in hiring people who acknowledge their weaknesses rather than bragging about their strengths.
  • When we ask questions, we invite people to join our dance. When we assume things and think on their behalf, we never get them on the dance.

Bad Blood on the Diamond: Diminishing Prejudice by Destabilizing Stereotypes

  • Convincing others to destroy their stereotypes demands counterfactual thinking. Like asking questions in debates, we should ask questions and put the other side in situations where they understand how they formed these stereotypes. We should ask questions that will let them put themselves in someone else's shoes. When people realize how easy it is to develop stereotypes, they change their perspectives. We need to ask questions that nudge them to explore the origins of their thoughts and beliefs, and we need to provoke them to reconsider their stance.
"Many of our beliefs are cultural truisms: widely shared, but rarely questioned."
  • When people interact with others with whom they formed beliefs against them, they often destroy their beliefs.
  • In general, the people who hold power should question their beliefs more because they will likely form stereotypes and prejudices that will not be questioned.

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

  • Motivational interviewing consists of
    • Asking open-ended questions
    • Engaging in reflective listening
    • Affirming the person's desire and ability to change
    • Summarizing
  • Listening well is not only listening. It's asking questions, being curious, and responding to other people. If someone just seems like they listen to you, you feel that they are not interested in what you're saying. Listening well requires listening with interest.
  • The Righting Reflex: the desire to fix problems and offer answers. An excellent motivational interviewer resists this reflex.
  • Empathetic and uncritical listeners make people less anxious and defensive. People feel less stress and encourage themselves to explore their thoughts more deeply, recognize more nuances, and openly share them.
"Communicators try to make themselves look smart; great listeners try to make their audience feel smart."
  • Listening is giving the best gift: our attention

Charged Conversations: Depolarizing Our Divided Discussions

  • To overcome binary bias, exposing ourselves to various perspectives is necessary.
  • Doubtful experts are more persuasive. When people hear unknowns and uncertainties from the experts they trust, they pay more attention to the argument.
  • Changing the focus from why to how reduces polarization and enables people to have more constructive conversations.
  • Seeing and appreciating complexities remind us that there is no best and most effective behavior, and all of them have consequences.
  • Binary bias is not only in our behavior but also in our emotions. When we face an adversary, it becomes easy to be stuck in one feeling, and it's difficult to rethink our position later on.

Rewriting the Textbook: Teaching Students to Question Knowledge

  • Thinking like a fact-checker requires three guidelines:
    1. Interrogate the information instead of just consuming it.
    2. Reject popularity as its reliability.
    3. Recognize that the sender of the information may be different than its source.
  • People learn more when they look at their solutions and try different approaches. Rethinking helps to master their craft.

That's not the Way we've Always Done It: Building Cultures of Learning at Work

  • Psychological safety and accountability play a critical role together in learning teams.
  • Psychological safety is when people can express their concerns and suggestions while knowing they will be well received. These cultures foster trust, respect, and openness.
  • In performance cultures, where we praise performance more, people rely on experts more and trust their word instead of thinking—and rethinking—their approach.
  • To create psychological safety, leaders need to state their weaknesses out loud and make a public commitment to be open to feedback.
  • Psychological safety requires humility: "confident humility to state that we're work in progress."
  • When we explain some process behind a decision to someone else, we tend to see vulnerabilities more clearly, and we think more critically.
  • When best practices become the standard, they tend to get worst practices because people blindly follow them and stop improving them.

Escaping Tunnel Vision: Reconsidering Our Best-Laid Career and Life Plans

  • Asking kids about what they want to be when they grow up nudges them to place their identity in their work. They should actually think of the work as something they do rather than something they are. When they see it as something they do, they become more open to exploring their options and various responsibilities in their adult life.
  • Have regular career check-ups. Have the same for relationships. Overall goal: Expand repertoire of possible selves.
    • For career: once or twice a year.
      1. Find out people who inspire you. Observe what they do day-to-day.
      2. Form a hypothesis about how their style/processes might align with your interests, skills, ways, and values.
      3. Test out by running experiments. Do job interviewing, shadowing, and internships; the goal is to get a taste of work.
    • For relationships: once in a while when facing difficulty.
Book Review and Notes Last Updated: Sep 23, 2022