“Think Again” by Adam Grant teaches the reader how to approach arguments, discussions, and debates differently. Grant explains that we usually default to what he likes to call prosecutor, preacher, or politician mode where, in a discussion, we prosecute the other person’s ideas, preach on how we’re right and they’re wrong, and politick trying to campaign and lobby the person to your side. Adam suggests we should use scientist mode instead.
Rethink Your Thoughts
Grant describes scientist mode as approaching an argument like a scientist, more specifically using a version of the scientific method to have an actual conversation with the other person. You don’t start with questions or answers; you lead with questions. You don’t preach from intuition; you teach from evidence. You don’t just have healthy skepticism about other’s arguments; you must accept that you can disagree with your own arguments. In scientist mode, you must have an actively open-mind for other’s and your own counter-arguments. Without a scientist’s mindset you get stuck in an overconfident cycle were you take pride in your points, be convinced in the conviction of your points, you confirm your point via a desirability bias, then you get a sliver of validation. But with a scientist’s mindset pride is replaced with humility. Humility leads you to doubt your point, which makes you curious to find answers, then finally you make that discovery.
“Adam Grant makes a captivating argument that if we have the humility and curiosity to reconsider our beliefs, we can always reinvent ourselves. Think Again helped me learn about how great thinkers and achievers don’t let expertise or experience stand in the way of being perpetual students.”-M. Night Shymalan
When In Doubt, Think It Out
Another issue Grant discusses is finding what he calls the sweet spot of confidence. There are two ends of the confidence spectrum, the overconfident “Armchair Quarterback” and the self-doubting “Imposter.” On the far left is what Adam Grant likes to call the Armchair Quarterback were you have vast confidence in yourself, but have very little skill or competence. And on the far right is Imposter Syndrome were you have very high competence but little to none confidence. Grant tries to aim the reader into the sweet middle ground of Confident Humility. Confident Humility can be described as being confident in your own abilities while also maintaining humility to question yourself and the tools (a.k.a. points of an argument) you have at your disposal. Being certain in your tools but insecure about your abilities can make you obsessive about your inferiority. Not believing in yourself or your tools can leave you with debilitating doubt. But having secure belief in yourself and your tools can leave you with blind arrogance. Finally we arrive at having belief in yourself but being uncertain about your tools. This breeds Confident Humility.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”- Charles Darwin