Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink

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The following review was originally published by the Florida Homebuilders Association website. {http://www.fhba.com/index.cfm?referer=content.contentItem&id=1537}

By Ann Hagen

Blink is about how we make choices, and the decisions we make without consciously thinking about them. Malcolm Gladwell wants to convince us that the decisions we make very quickly can be as good as the decisions we make cautiously and deliberately. He talks about the very smallest components of our everyday lives that play a major role in this. We need to look inside of ourselves and examine how we make decisions and think less about all the details that go into the big picture.

The impressions we form in the first two seconds of an encounter shapes our decisions making. He calls this “Thin Slicing,” which “refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.”

He provides many examples of experts that can do this through years of training. Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington can actually tell if married couples have a healthy relationship with a 15-minute videotape of their conversations while they are discussing a relevant subject. He can tell with a 90-percent accuracy whether that couple will still be married 15 years later. He doesn’t do this through snap judgments but with a computerized program that quantifies certain behavior and words that the couples will use toward each other. However, when we do an unconscious, automated and accelerated version of what Gottman does with his videotapes and computer equations it is “Thin Slicing.”

People can also be “primed.” Words that are said or read over and over again will cause them to be more polite, think in a certain manner or react a certain way due to prior associations “primed” into their subconscious. He wants us to understand that we need to be aware of our snap judgments when they are based on race, sex or appearance.

We need to realize that our snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled. Sometimes spontaneous decisions can seem to be random, however, they are usually made with training and rules. When you allow trained people to operate without having to explain themselves on a constant basis, you allow them the advantage to use this skill. Having too much information can be a disadvantage and harmful in the decision making. It confuses the issues.

The power of knowing in that first two seconds is an ability that we can all cultivate for ourselves. However, there needs to be a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking. We need to deliberately omit our prejudices and primed responses and learn that good decision making is based on the simplest elements.

Ann Hagen is a Sales and Marketing Director for Bonded Builders Warranty Group. She servers builders in Central Florida and the West Coast from Citrus to Charlotte counties. Ann is also FHBA’s 2010 Associate of the Year. Contact Ann by calling (407) 701-6792 or email.

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