Adam Grant | Why You Should Rethink A Lot More Than You Do

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The Knowledge Project

Celebrated organizational psychologist and author Adam Grant provides compelling insight into why we should spend time not just thinking, but rethinking. In this episode we cover how to change our own views, how to change the views of others, hiring processes, psychological safety, tribes and group identity, feigned knowledge, binary bias, and so much more. Grant is a Professor of Psychology at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of five books, including his most recent release, the New York Times bestseller Think Again. He also serves as the host of WorkLife, a TED original podcast. 00:00 - Introduction 2:00 - The Roots of Rethinking 3:45 - Why It’s Hard to Rethink Ourselves 7:30 - Identity and Beliefs 8:19 - How do we update our views? 10:45 - How Shane Parrish Rethinks Ideas 11:58 - What We can Learn from Superforcasters 12:45 - Variables to Measure Your Thought Process 14:43 - Adam’s Fears with Writing “Think Again” 17:03 - The Dark Side of Consulting 19:05 - Good Processes and Bad Outcomes 21:47 - How do you judge a process? 26:21 - Why is hiring hit or miss? 28:40 - How to Create psychological safety at work 35:32 - What is psychological safety? 37:50 - Preachers, Prosecutors, Politicians 42:20 - Why don’t we elect leaders who think like a scientist? 45:39 - Why do people join tribes? 49:00 - How do we change other people’s minds? 51:04 - How should we share our opinion? 54:10 - Intellectual Humility 57:53 - Adam’s Pet Peeve 01:03:04 - What is a logic bully? 01:06:38 - How do you help kids rethink? 01:11:42 - What did you learn writing “Think Again?” 01:14:35 - Daniel Kahneman and Adam Grant 01:16:24 - Riffing on Amazon 01:22:04 - Ending Notes Dive deeper into this episode here: https://fs.blog/knowledge-project/adam-grant2/ Follow us on Instagram HERE: https://www.instagram.com/farnamstreet/ Subscribe to The Knowledge Project Podcast Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3fz6u4X Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2SSgCvT Google Podcasts: https://bit.ly/2Wjw7iy) -------- #TheKnowledgeProject #ShaneParrish #AdamGrant -------- FOLLOW US: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/farnamstreet/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/farnamstreet Shane Parrish: https://twitter.com/ShaneAParrish

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As i read this paper it suddenly dawned on me that this is this is a perfect metaphor for me as an organizational psychologist because we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and talking like professions we have never held right like occupations we were never trained in so think about how much time you spend in your life preaching Right you've already found the truth and your job is to proselytize it prosecuting you find somebody who you think is wrong and your job is to prove it and win your your case or come out ahead in the argument and politicking where you think okay i've got a base of people who i'm trying to curry favor with and so i've got a campaign for their approval and support And what i started realizing is i was i was actually about halfway through writing think again i realized it needed an organizing framework and so much of what i was trying to encourage people to do was about getting out of the mode of of preaching prosecuting and politicking and into the mode of thinking more like a scientist and part of the reason that i wanted to Do that is i think that you know the danger of preaching and prosecuting is that you don't change your mind right you you're right everyone else is wrong and so you might be very motivated to get other people to rethink but your views are frozen they're set in stone and politicking is interesting because when we're being political we're actually more flexible right we Might even flip-flop but we're doing it at the wrong times and we're doing it for the wrong reasons because we're just doing it to appease our tribe as opposed to doing it to find the truth and so i think we could all get better at thinking more like scientists to say you know what your views they're actually just theories right you could you could kind of make them into hypotheses And then you could run little experiments in your life to figure out whether they're true or false and that should leave you not only more mentally flexible but also more likely to change your mind at the right times for the right reasons [Music] can you tell us in your own words how you came to write about rethinking i this is such a hard question to answer because everything i want to say I'm tempted to rethink so we're going to have to question a lot of what i say here i think in some ways i i really started thinking deliberately about it when i just had experience after experience of going into a new organization and you know usually i'd either give a keynote speech or the ceo or founder would reach out for some advising and i'd start to walk through the Evidence on whatever their question was and more often than not i'd get answers like well that won't work around here or that's not how we've always done things and at some point i just started saying hmm blackberry blockbuster kodak sears should i keep going and it was it was both surprising and mildly annoying to me that the very people who had called me Because they thought i could help them rethink their vision their culture their strategy were closed to the best evidence i could find and i got really curious about why that was and then i saw a lot of the same thing with my students where you know they'd come in completely locked into being investment bankers I've had enough students regret that path that i've spotted some of the warning signs that somebody might not find nirvana going down that road and i'd you know i'd try to encourage them to reconsider and i got the same resistance and any time i see a 21 year old and a 61 year old grapple with the same exact problem i think there's something really Important and interesting to explore so here we are yeah definitely we always say it's easy to see that other people should rethink things like we're looking at them going like oh you know that's blockbuster they should have rethought that or they should be rethinking that it's really hard for us to rethink ourselves why is that i i think i mean i think there are there are probably multiple reasons for It but i think two of the reasons why people are really hesitant to rethink things are one it makes the world feel much more unpredictable you know if if my views aren't fixed then who am i and how do i navigate a really confusing and often turbulent world and two it makes me feel like i am not an expert right and a lot of us Take pride in our knowledge uh we feel like it's you know when i think about power there's a classic french and french and raven framework uh where they said look you know there's there's expert power there's what's called referent power which is basically being liked and respect and then there's coercive reward and um and legitimate power and most of the Bases of power that people have in life come from a position that they happen to hold right so my ability to reward you or punish you my ability to get you to listen to me because i have a role of authority is not something i can carry with me and so the knowledge i have is one of the few things that i get to hold on to and the idea that that might be fragile it not only questions my identity it also I guess questions my status and my standing in the world which is something pretty uncomfortable to do let's double click on that identity concept because i think that you sort of said our views are almost tied to our identity and that gets in the way sometimes yeah i think this is this is something i'm always puzzled by and i i feel like i see it in every Field so you know there are there are professionals in almost every field who not only are interested in in particular ways of being or particular practices but they actually define themselves by living those practices and so you know you you know this already but when i was writing the book i i started thinking through you know how how terrible would the world be If some professions had not rethought some of their convictions so imagine for example that you went to a doctor whose identity was to be a professional lobotomist right that would be extremely dangerous and yet there was a time when a lot of physicians define themselves by that method by that set of tools we've seen the same thing with you know with police officers right who Uh who identified themselves as the kinds of people who would stop and frisk because you never know where a criminal could be and we know from the evidence that that that just had horrendous effects uh particularly when it comes to you know disproportionately um arresting and uh and prosecuting people of color uh particularly black people here in the us i think you know we we've had teachers And parents who identified with with practices that were just highly ineffective and maybe even harmful and i i think that it's it's dangerous right i think that for me an identity is not about what you believe it's about what you value and so i want to have a set of principles for me my highest values are generosity excellence integrity and freedom and i am Completely flexible on the best ways to live those values and so you might come tomorrow and tell me you know what the randomized controlled experiments that you do the longitudinal studies you do there's a fatal flaw in them and there's a better way to be helpful and excellent at your job and i would be skeptical because i believe in science but i would be open to hearing the idea How did you get to that point like how do we convince ourselves to attach our our outcome to more of our values than our beliefs like attach our identity to values and not beliefs like that's a that's a tricky path isn't it do you think so i don't know like how do you well it seems like it is otherwise we'd just be rethinking all the time i mean that isn't that part of the fun Of being human though to me rethinking is it's code for learning isn't it well it is but we don't update our views very often that's that's part of the issue our own and others right it's hard to see it when we don't do it it's really easy to see when others don't do it but we're maybe we're 50 50. right like how do we nudge that forward so it's like 70 Of the time we're open to updating our views and what is the process by which we update our views that's a great question so the the way that i've i've landed it thinking about this is to say look when when you have a belief you have two options one is you can subject it to a rethinking cycle the other is you can fall victim to an Overconfidence cycle so an overconfident cycle is you know something we've all both committed and uh and witnessed probably too many times but the basic idea is we start by being proud of something that we think we know and that leads us then to feel a lot of conviction that kind of launches us into confirmation bias where we look for information that confirms our Expectations as well as desirability bias where we look for information that that basically reinforces what we want to be true and then we see what we expected to see and what we wanted to see and we get validated and that only makes us prouder of what we know and less open to rethinking the rethinking cycle is is very much the opposite it starts for Me with intellectual humility which is about knowing what you don't know so you you know no matter how much of an expert you are in a given field or a given topic you have a long list of things that you're clueless about and being aware of what of what your ignorance is leads you to doubt your convictions it makes you curious about what you don't know And that opens your mind to new discoveries and then every time you learn something new it's not this sign that oh now i'm an expert it's this sense that well there's so much more to learn right and i've i've made a tiny tiny dot of progress in you know a whole universe of knowledge and i can't wait to see what i learned next and so i think one of the things we need To do is we need to give ourselves permission to enter rethinking cycles and there are a lot of ways to do that we could we could talk about but shane i'm gonna ask you about this because couple a couple years ago you wrote a post about how we should have more second thoughts and i literally started writing about that i think it must have come out around the time that i was writing the Think again book proposal and i i had proposed a tentative title for this book as second thoughts i was like this is amazing you're on the exact same wavelength as me and this is what you do for a living right you you rethink things you also ask the farnum street community and your whole audience here at the knowledge project to rethink a lot of their convictions So where do you start your rethinking cycles and how do you know when it's time to enter one i think like i i've just summed this up as like outcome over ego and so i usually try to wrap my outcome or wrap my my sense of identity or ego in the outcome and that's something i learned when i was working for the intelligence agency right like it wasn't about Me having the best idea it was like who's got the best idea because that's going to get the best outcome and then you sort of grow up in an environment where that becomes i would say the norm by and large it's hard in a knowledge environment though right because you have so much of your your worth you you want to contribute to something i think there's a biological need to contribute to something larger than us And if your identity you're not mechanically making something you can't see there's nothing tangible to what you're producing then you you you effectively are a knowledge worker in one way or another and then you're paid for your judgment so if your judgment isn't right what is it and then what you do is you you you force your way right like you you Don't intentionally sabotage other people but you only look for confirming evidence you you're not open to changing your mind because your sense of identity is tied to being right because that's how you contribute to the organization it's it's interesting but not at all surprising to me that that you really learn this in the intelligence community because the way you're describing Your process of rethinking is exactly what what i learned from studying super forecasters right which is they they will often come in to making a judgment and say okay the only way to have a better shot at getting right or excuse me the only way to have a better shot at being right is to recognize all the places where i'm wrong yeah and i i love this practice in particular that came from one of the Super forecasters in the book jean-pierre begum who when he forms a tentative opinion will actually make a list of the conditions under which he would change his mind and i've actually started doing this over the the past few months because i don't want to get locked into something that was you know maybe sort of a soothing belief but ultimately one that's not going to Serve me well we used to do that too we used to sort of like track here are the the key variables that are going to drive this and here's the the range at which we expect those variables and the moment they go outside of that range it triggers a a rethinking if you will of oh maybe we're wrong maybe we got this wrong and now we can course correct and the earlier we can course correct A the less costly it is and b the more likely we're going to be correct in the ultimate outcome and that's what we were focused on is like not not the um when you you're dealing with what we were dealing with you want the ultimate outcome to be successful yeah i i love the way that you you capture how important it is to be clear up front right about those ranges because it is so easy and Frankly so human right to move the goal posts well that's what we noticed right when we just when we actually when we talked about it and we didn't codify it in a way that everybody could sort of present or use as a reference we move the goal posts all the times it's just human nature right it's like oh well that's easy to explain away that's easy to explain away But when you actually codify it you give everybody in the team power to sort of like talk about it and bring it up and be like oh this doesn't make sense anymore like what's going on here because we never thought this would happen this is this is interesting to me in part because one of the many reasons i was looking forward to this conversation is you're you're one of the best rethinkers I know and i think there's a in in the world of thought leaders i think there's a premium on you know on being an explainer right i i constantly am getting articles that are labeled as this is an explainer on this topic yeah and i'm always hearing right whether it's a podcaster or a ted talker or an author oh this person is a great explainer and i'm not nearly as drawn to that as i am To someone being a great rethinker right somebody who i know is gonna invite me to rethink something that i've believed and actually get me excited about doing that as opposed to either shutting down completely or being reluctant to do it and one of my biggest fears when somebody who excels at this skill reads this book and you're one of the first to read it Is i don't want you to agree with everything i've i've said right i'm trying to i'm trying to explain how rethinking happens how we can do it more often and do it more effectively and i am confident there are some things i got wrong or things that i was i probably missed when i was writing the book and i have a hunch that you probably noticed many of those things so Can i can i push you to tell me what you disagreed with or what you think i should rethink um well let's continue the conversation i think we'll just naturally get into some pockets of this i just wanted to make sure early on i planted a flag that said shane tell me what i should rethink one thing i did want to point out though that um farnum street i mean we we sort of thought about this From the get-go and the tagline is mastering the best of what other people have figured out so then there's no sense of identity like we don't uh i don't come up with anything i just try to like talk to smart people like you all day and i'm like oh that makes sense like i think that'll work and the ultimate utility is sort of or the the ultimate test of whether a theory works is Not only does it predict the past but it predicts the future right so what's the utility to it and i think that when you you think about it that way you don't man i can listen to adam today and then tomorrow somebody can come up with a better idea than adam and i'm not attached to that and i know our relationship isn't attached to me sort of agreeing with you that's right but i think you're You're under you're probably underselling the value of what you deliver the way you just described that because i think part of what you do is you yes you collect knowledge from other people and from many sources right but then you often extrapolate from that information in a way that that actually helps people see oh and this is what i'm supposed to learn from it And now i have an old belief that i can replace with a new one or i had kind of an intuitive framework that wasn't working for me and now i have a much more effective and much more nuanced framework to work with and i think that you're you're constantly giving people the tools to question themselves and then to kind of you're not just throwing out a bunch of ideas that that need to be debunked which i think a lot Of thought leaders do you're actually offering people something to improve them with i appreciate the generosity in that um i want to come to something you said about blackberry and blockbuster i was thinking you know like these companies sort of hire you to help them rethink but companies don't rethink anything it's people there that rethink things and Traditionally consulting hasn't been about rethinking it's about affirming something we already want to do and putting putting the the shoulder of that externally somehow yeah and this is why i'm a terrible consultant and why i hate consulting right i i i've discovered over the past couple years that i would much rather be an advisor than a consultant because i think as as a consultant to Your point too often people have already decided on a decision or a plan or leaders want to convince their board of directors that you know that they brought in an outsider to you know to explore alternatives and then having done lip service to whatever the issue was they basically say all right we checked the box now our work here is done and what i want to do is i i really want To encourage people to you know to challenge their own thinking right and to consider possibilities they hadn't really thought through or given credence to before and so i feel like as an advisor what i often get to do is say look my job here is not to to tell you what the answer is my job is to introduce you to new questions right and what i want to do is I want to hold up a mirror so that you can see your own problems more clearly and once you do you're in a much better position to solve them than i am and in that process one of the things i keep learning the hard way is even when i think i i have a pretty strong recommendation i often either sell it too early uh or i haven't tailored it enough to the world that the person is in And so uh what i've what i've tried to shift to over the years it's frankly the same thing that i've tried to do in office hours is to say all right shane tell me what you know why you're here why did you call me i'm happy to share with you whatever i know on this topic and then what i would love to hear from you is what do you want to do with that information i think that's a that's a really good Approach one thing that i'm struggling with is how do you balance this notion of okay we don't know everything there's a lot of uncertainty in what we're doing i'm open to rethinking it but i also i need to take action and i need to do something and then you have an escalation of commitment the more action you take which it becomes harder and harder to rethink you the sun costs building up you have other sort of Escalations how do you balance those two things between being open and also affording yourself the choices that you need to make to exist in an organization and seize opportunity i don't know that there's a way to get the best of both worlds in every situation i do think though that you can create conditions that in at least increase the probability That you end up both open and decisive at the same time which is a sort of strange combination so for me that's really about changing the way that we we reward people so in too many organizations people are basically counted as successful if they get a good result and failed if they get a bad result and the problem is it often takes years to find out what the results were it's very easy for people to persist With a failing project for a long time and convince themselves and everyone else around them that you know that they're on the right path and so what what a lot of the research on this suggests is that we want to shift to process accountability not just outcome accountability and ask people to really think seriously about okay how would i know that this is a thorough and thoughtful decision process as opposed to one that's driven you know Purely by whim or intuition and ends up being much more shallow so i drew this little two by two that i've i've found helpful where i cross the quality of the outcome with the quality of the process and i think we need to stop rewarding good outcomes with bad processes because that's just luck right that's that's kind of a boneheaded decision that happened to turn out well And we need to start either celebrating or at least normalizing good processes with bad outcomes because if you have a very thorough process let's say for example you're going to launch a new product or you're going to even try to reinvent your culture a little bit or you're trying to figure out you know should we should we hire somebody or not in all of those decisions the the common ingredient is You don't know what the outcome is going to be a year two years five years down the road what you do know though is that there are more systematic more rigorous ways of evaluating the decision now and so if you can score yourself on a set of benchmarks around okay was my process thorough then even if the outcome wasn't good you could say well that was an experiment worth running Because that's part of how you become a learning organization and i i'm constantly shocked by how few people actually think this way i'd love to see more how do you judge a process well what kind of process are we talking about are we talking about a decision-making process for example yeah let's do that like how do you walk through judging that and knowing that the outcome won't happen for years but Also knowing that you need to update the process as you go along to get better and better with you incorporate new knowledge great all right so let's take a specific kind of decision so let's let's do a hiring decision since that's easy to work with so shane if you and i are going to make a hiring decision together i'm delegating to you for sure no you shouldn't What you want is for me to weigh in on how to design the process and you want to be the one that implements it okay so but what i would do is i would start by saying okay most basic mistake that people make in these kinds of decisions is they don't consider criteria before looking at candidates right so they they interview their three people and they start to compare them as opposed to saying no I should have an independent standard for the skills and values that i'm trying to select on and let's identify those really clearly let's not just do those from my opinion let's you know let's try to build some wisdom from a crowd here and of course not all crowds are equally wise right so let's let's go to people who are knowledgeable about the key uh the key dimensions of our culture the key challenges of the job And then once we built out the criteria we're looking for the next step is to say okay how do we rigorously and comprehensively assess people standing on those criteria and you know in a lot of cases there's one interviewer we know that it's better to go up to three or four empirically in too many cases also it's each interviewer's job to make an overall assessment of the candidate which makes it too easy to decide you Like someone and then confirmation bias and desirability bias are are basically driving the process uh so what we do instead is we we break this down and we say okay shane i'm looking for somebody who's a giver not a taker your job when you meet this candidate is to solely assess them on that dimension and come back with your behavioral data on whether they you know they fall more on the selfish or the generous end of That spectrum and then we have someone else assessing their intellectual humility and curiosity we have somebody else who's you know maybe gauging their levels of integrity and so nobody has a conviction about whether the overall candidate is good or not uh they're building the pieces of the puzzle to say okay does this person meet our criteria And then after that's done we would then come together and say okay now let's make an overall judgment having pooled all of our knowledge right that's a thorough process and it's very different from how most organizations hire why is it so different from what most people do just because it's time consuming and i think it's less about the time and more about the gospel of intuition i think that Too many too many hiring managers are afraid that if they essentially delegate i mean this is a more algorithmic it's a more algorithmic approach to decision making right if i if i delegate my knowledge and my experience uh to what feels more like a formula then maybe i'm out of a job and maybe also you know my my superior intuition my gut Feeling about a candidate is going to get ignored and that's what i've you know i've hung my hat on for a lot of my career i also think it's boring right so managers love having the freedom and flexibility to go wherever the interview takes them and you know the idea of being much more structured in your interview process of saying okay let's get a well-defined work sample Let's you know figure out if somebody says they're a good salesperson let's actually ask them to sell us something and let's compare all the candidates on the same selling task it kind of reduces the variety that i get in my job and i think that's those are a couple of the reasons why why it's uncommon but i i think to your point yeah it's expensive right so it ultimately will require a bigger Investment of time it probably requires more people involved too that time has an opportunity cost and so maybe we feel like we're giving something up i don't know about you if i'm going to hire someone and commit to working with them i cannot invest enough time up front to decide that that's a good choice it's interesting to me to listen to you Say that because what comes to mind is like there are organizations that invest incredible amounts of energy time money into this their sports organization all sports you know before they draft somebody it's like who what is the person's character how well do they recognize the plays how well do they is it in intuition versus professionalism on their part Right um and they have these ways of evaluating that special forces the same thing they're investing a lot in sort of determining these recruits and why do you think they're so variable like it's hit or miss right like they haven't cracked that code if you will i think i i think it's it's hit or miss for a few reasons one is that we we don't have all the criteria that we need So you know most i i've worked with a whole bunch of professional sports teams over the past few years on this exact problem and they're at best assessing on you know maybe seven or eight attributes when there might be 200 that are going to drive people's future performance right so i think that's that's the first problem the second problem is the measures are extremely noisy So it's one thing to say okay you know if i'm trying to hire a if i want to draft somebody to play for the toronto raptors right i can i can figure out how tall they are i can figure out how high they can jump but when it comes to you know quickness and diving for a loose ball i can't measure that as precisely as i would like and then i'm also trying to come up with a score For grit and generosity and humility good luck with that right they're they're very very intangible factors to measure and then how you would weigh them would vary based on the individual candidate too i would imagine and yeah team character and i hope in trouble exactly the aggregation problem is huge so i actually had this question posed uh by a sports team last year that Was hiring a head coach and they had used some of my assessments and the question was okay do we go we have two finalists do we go with the coach who scored higher in intelligence or the coach who was more of a giver i don't know that is i i'm not at liberty to say but uh the coach they ended up choosing the coach with a higher intelligence score and firing That coach at the i think at the end of the season or or shortly thereafter and i i don't know what the right answer is there right i i think there's you know there's probably a threshold i would not want a coach who's extremely selfish i also wouldn't want a coach who's not you know reasonably intelligent but then when you get into the ranges of well well anybody could with these attributes could succeed i don't know how to trade those off and Then to your other point well how are they going to gel with the culture of the team and with the players involved right those are all open questions and so this is a very messy problem let's come out of this problem a little bit and i'm going to hire you as an advisor and i want to how do i encourage my organization the culture within the organization that People are they feel psychological safety i guess that's the core requirement to rethink as an individual is like you feel it's not threatening to your identity it's not going to have an impact on your job your career nobody's going to hold it over your head how do how do we encourage that within how do we build psychological safety within an organization so constantino scuda ferris and i just Finished some studies on this exact topic and we started from the premise of saying look if if you're a leader and you want to build psychological safety you want to give people the freedom to take risks and to know they won't be punished if if they rethink something or they voice a problem that needs attention then what most leaders think they should do is ask for feedback Because then the door is open and we did find that ceos who seek feedback more often had higher psychological safety in their top management teams but we found that when we went and encouraged managers to go and ask for feedback it didn't have a lasting effect on psychological safety and it seems like a couple things broke down in our in our follow-up analyses The first one was sometimes leaders and managers would ask for feedback and then they didn't like what they heard and they got defensive which immediately says nope guess the door is closed the second problem was even when they were open to ideas sometimes the feedback was irrelevant or it addressed areas that were outside their span of control and so they said okay this is not a priority For me or i can't do anything about it and that led them to stop asking and it led their employees also to stop giving and to stop speaking up because it seemed like an exercise in futility right so even if you took the fear away that doesn't mean that that i can have an impact if i raise an idea or i challenge my leader to rethink something so we got curious about alternative approaches that that might have a more Lasting effect on psychological safety and the one we we tried out that worked effectively was instead of just asking for feedback we actually had leaders criticize themselves out loud in some cases managers would bring in their performance review and they'd say to their team hey here's what you know what my boss told me i need to work on and i would love your input on whether I'm making progress in these areas and not only did ceos who did that naturally have higher psychological safety in their top management teams but when we randomly assign managers to kind of criticize themselves as opposed to asking for criticism just inviting them to do that once increased psychological safety in their teams for at least a year which is a staggering effect And there are a couple things that happen that are really different from what happens when you just seek feedback so one thing that happens when you criticize yourself is you show you can take it and it makes people immediately less fearful about challenging you the second thing that happened which i i think is in some ways even more interesting Is it created mutuality there's there's now a dialogue that's going on where i've said you know what shane here are all the places where i i just i stink and i really need your help in getting better and you now not only have the freedom to tell me how i can improve but you feel like you can be more vulnerable with me and so we end up with a there's basically a normalization of vulnerability that Happens where you know once i say hey i'm a work in progress everybody on my team is more comfortable acknowledging that too and it makes it easier too for the team to hold me accountable so let's say for example i have a tendency to talk too much in meetings and i come into my team and one day instead of saying hey could you give me some feedback on our meetings i say you know i've realized i have a Tendency to not shut up when i should i would love you all to help me with this then two meetings later i'm rambling and that gives permission to my team to say hey you know how you said you wanted to talk less yeah it hasn't happened yet right so then you know what we saw is a lot of the teams work together to create practices for keeping the door open they do a first five minutes of every Meeting check-in is there anything anyone can do to improve they'd hold a monthly vulnerability meeting in some cases where people would just talk about their development areas and their progress and where they were struggling and i think that we could all be more open in criticizing ourselves and i'm not saying you know that every leader should stand up in front of the thousands of people Who work below them and talk about all the things they're bad at but i think with the core people that you work with odds are they know what your weaknesses and shortcomings are anyway and if you can own up to them people are much more likely to help you rethink your ways of fixing those flaws i think the key word in everything you just said is they did it naturally it wasn't a tactic it was a behavior as Part of who they were and when it comes across as a tactic it actually has the opposite impact i would imagine i don't know what the studies say but i've been on the other side of this where leaders get up and they do their token like here's how i failed and you know i there wasn't enough toilet paper in the bathroom and everybody's just like oh my god you know and it sort of backfires in the Organization but when it's a natural behavior and it's consistent and part of who you are and part of working together then it has a different impact yes i think i think that's exactly right i think there were interestingly in our in our study there were some managers who came in a little reluctant thinking okay i'm afraid that my employees are going to think i'm cherry-picking You know the development areas that are actually strengths in disguise and you know or i'm worried that that my team is is gonna say well why are you sharing this with us and i think ironically knowing that people might be a little bit on guard or a little bit suspicious actually led leaders to be more authentic and to come in and say you know what i The the whole reason that i'm going to talk about areas for growth is i want to get better and so the more honest i can be about that the more likely i am to grow and then if you see me wanting to get better i mean we want to hang out with people like us and then it creates sort of a group cohesion about all of us are getting better and we're all helping each other Get better and by the way we're all in the same problem working together towards this common goal with this huge impact yeah i think it it it really changes the the emotional experience of giving and receiving feedback and and speaking up about problems and suggestions uh instead of in as a leader a manager instead of feeling threatened You actually feel like you're being coached right instead of feeling judged you feel like you're being supported and so i think it's the responsibility of people in power to open that door and keep it open right and this this step to prove right here is the stuff people told me i am terrible at here's how i benefited from hearing those things in the past that's one of the best ways that you can Show that you really mean it i think when i asked this question about psychological safety i actually presumed to know what some of those variables are but maybe you can help what are the variables that go into feeling safe psychologically either at home in a relationship with your spouse or at work are they the same are they different where do they talk to me about that so in the early research on psychological Safety by amy edmondson and bill khan and some of their colleagues the two foundations were really trust and respect and i think a lot of people as amy has pointed out get psychological safety wrong they think it's about being nice to everyone or being tolerant of everything or having no standards or not holding people accountable no It's none of those things psychological safety is knowing that other people are going to treat you with respect and trusting that if you go out on a limb and say something uncomfortable or challenge a deep-seated belief that you are not going to be punished for that and so i think i think the you know the basic ingredients right trust and respect Uh that those those matter in any relationship right whether it's it's romantic or professional uh and i think that one of the i mean one of the most basic mistakes people make on this is they forget that one of the the most effective ways to earn trust is to show trust and i think that's why i want leaders to to begin with vulnerability right it's It's it doesn't when you ask somebody for feedback you are saying hey i respect you right shane i want your input i want you to tell me what i should rethink in my book about rethinking but if i don't criticize myself out loud then you can't really trust that i'm going to listen to you and that i'm not going to bite your head off or get offended in Some way right so i think i'd get a much more honest answer from you if instead of saying hey tell me what i should rethink i came in and i said you know what i think one of the biggest mistakes i made in writing this book was i really understated the importance of of preaching and prosecuting relative to being in scientist mode which maybe is Something we'll talk about maybe we won't but once i say that like hey you know what i know this book is not perfect i poured a lot of energy and time into it but i really want to find out how i can evolve my thinking and you're a great person to help me do that let's talk about the preachers um prosecutors and politicians and scientists When you introduce that for us yeah so credit to phil tetlock for bringing this framework onto my radar phil wrote this amazing paper uh almost 20 years ago now where he said look you know a lot of a lot of research on decision making and judgment assumes that people are are thinking like hyper rational economists or scientists and we're not actually we're much more Social creatures than that and as i read this paper it suddenly dawned on me that this is this is a perfect metaphor for me as an organizational psychologist because we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and talking like professions we have never held right like occupations we were never trained in so think about how much time you spend in your life preaching Right you've already found the truth and your job is to proselytize it prosecuting you find somebody who you think is wrong and your job is to prove it and win your your case or come out ahead in the argument and politicking where you think okay i've got a base of people who i'm trying to curry favor with and so i've got a campaign for their approval and support And what i started realizing is i was i was actually about halfway through writing think again i realized it needed an organizing framework and so much of what i was trying to encourage people to do was about getting out of the mode of of preaching prosecuting and politicking and into the mode of thinking more like a scientist and part of the reason that i wanted to do that is i think that you know the Danger of preaching and prosecuting is that you don't change your mind right you you're right everyone else is wrong and so you might be very motivated to get other people to rethink but your views are frozen they're set in stone and politicking is interesting because when we're being political we're actually more flexible right we might even flip-flop But we're doing it at the wrong times and we're doing it for the wrong reasons because we're just doing it to appease our tribe as opposed to doing it to find the truth and so i think we could all get better at thinking more like scientists to say you know what your views they're actually just theories right you could you could kind of make them into hypotheses and then you could Run little experiments in your life to figure out whether they're true or false and that should leave you not only more mentally flexible but also more likely to change your mind at the right times for the right reasons if it's not a lot of nature like effectively it's just a theory exactly can you say that again and repeat it to approximately eight billion people yeah i wish um if Being a scientist is also like in that case would you want your identity sort of tied up with your profession a little bit because scientists are known to sort of think and and change their mind and look for evidence and um so in that case i mean there is part of that that you want ooh that that is such an interesting reframing of my stance on identity i think you might be right I think i guess i i would say yeah i don't i don't see any problem with with having identities right having lots of identities i think what matters is what values you attach to them right so for me seeing myself as an as a scientist well i should be more specific see myself as a social scientist right and thinking about myself seeing myself as someone who likes to think and Talk scientifically and who was trained to do that what that means to me is i value truth and i am more interested in i'm more interested in in getting the answer right than i am in being right and you know that that means lots of my opinions are still flexible right i have a set of tools So i really like experiments i really like doing you know carefully constructed longitudinal studies uh and i think those those tools have been rigorously tested over centuries right as being the the most valid and probably independently verifiable or at least most difficult to falsify right techniques for for reaching the truth or at least getting closer to it and i think as an identity scientist is Helpful because it reminds me how much we don't know and how hard it is to you know to arrive at the truth or an approximation of it i want to preface uh my next sort of question with i don't want to talk about politics i don't want to talk about sort of um liberal democrat republican conservative anything to do with that i really what i want to hit at Is it seems that most of our leaders we elect them for being strong-minded clear-sighted isn't that and you know often charismatic is why are we drawn to these people if we know that actually maybe the best elected official would be the one that gets up and says i don't know how to fix this i would just hire the best people and listen to them but we would never Elect that person why do you think that is why are we drawn to this i don't know i think i think we have elected that person uh i don't i don't think it happens that often but i think that in the us uh franklin delano roosevelt that was literally his campaign with a new deal right it was it was uh it was a whole campaign to say you know what we're gonna we're gonna Run a bunch of trial and error experiments and learn from what works i think it's hard for that person to get elected though because especially as as we face crises and we grapple with uncertainty we're drawn to people who we feel like are going to figure it out and get to fix it and so if if somebody hedges too much if somebody shows too much humility i think we mistake that as a sign of Ignorance right and it's it's the basic trap that you've you've railed against for years shane which is we should stop confusing confidence for competence right just because somebody is is sure of an opinion does not mean they actually know what they're talking about and in fact anybody who's is familiar with the dunning-kruger effect will know that the the more assured People are of their opinions the more hesitant we should be to listen to them right but there's something very intoxicating about following someone who believes they've already found the way and i think it you know it gives us a sense of coherence it can give us a sense of purpose it's easy to put our trust in people who you know who who have a clear vision uh of course you know in The long run those are the people that i worry most about because they're the ones who are most likely to to get too attached to that vision and stick to it long past its time and i think it removes uncertainty too like it's sort of oh finally i don't have to think about something somebody else has got a clear path forward and therefore even if it's wrong we would almost Rather be wrong and certain than uncertain and land in the correct spot because it like wrecks havoc on us that is a scary thought i i think it's true for a lot of people and it makes me wonder if you know it at some level you're right it it's a way of letting other people do your thinking for you and this this is why political parties have always been Such a mystery to me like when you know when people ask me what my politics are uh i think for myself i try to form independent opinions based on the information that i encounter and the idea of identifying myself as a republican or a democrat or a liberal or conservative that's ridiculous to me because it means i've outsourced My thinking to some group of people that i don't think are thinking very scientifically let's talk about that without using politics sort of but like tribes like we we fit into these groups we want a sense of belonging it's a very human thing to want to fit in with a group be part of a group have status within that group in a hierarchy there's a biological sort of hierarchy need that we have even if We're lowest on the totem pole we sort of like want to know where we stand in this pecking order and then we assume group identities and group positions and those are really hard talk to me about that well i think the the idea that comes to mind right away here is the these twin desires that human beings are constantly grappling with we want to Fit in we also want to stand out right we want belonging we also want status there's there's a theory that i love marilyn brewer calls it optimal distinctiveness and she says look there's a way to fit in and stand out at the same time it's by joining unique groups because then you are part of something and you're not only part of something you're part of something that has a Clear identity because there are very few other groups like it but you also stand out because of the very way that that group has differentiated itself from from others and so if you can join a group that gives you that sense of optimal distinctiveness if you can join a kind of an unusual group or a group with with with clear well-defined boundaries then you're able to satisfy those those Motivations simultaneously and i think that that that explains the rise of a lot of movements and a lot of groups where people will say okay i want to i want to belong somewhere where where i also feel like you know i'm not like everyone else and i think that that you know it goes back to that's how people gain a sense of predictability it's how they they have a sense of control in their Lives it's how they avoid feeling excluded and frankly the other function it serves is existential right one of the one of the most robust findings in psychology over the past three decades is that belonging to a unique group actually serves a terror management function that it helps you avoid threats to your own mortality uh or at least it makes you worry less About uh about what might happen to you in the future and you know whether you have a legacy it connects you to something larger and more lasting than yourself and so yeah it's it's easy to see why people are drawn to these groups it's also a little bit scary do you have to be contributing to that group for that effect to sort of hold or can you just need to be a part of a Group like identify yourself as part of a group turns out identification is enough oh that's really interesting in fact sometimes sometimes the identity doesn't even have to be earned right it has to be claimed uh there's there's some peter goldwitz or work on um on how you know if people can it's a version of slacktivism where if people can claim to be a vegan Only the people who they who they eat dinner with will actually know if they're living it or not and so there are situations in which going public with that identity actually prevents people from following through on it privately that being said i think the the general effect in the literature is is the opposite right when when we're known for a particular identity we tend not to only internalize It we're then more likely to start to live it and want to contribute to that creep right because making choices that are a step towards who you who you are no that makes sense um so we've talked about sort of um the individual but how do we let's talk about how we change other people's mind how do we change the views of other people the people we work with Our partners this is probably the part of the conversation everybody wants because we're right how do i change somebody else's views how do i convince them that they're wrong and i'm right walk me through that well it helps to to let go of that sense that you're right and say look if if if this is a one-sided exchange and you're supposed to change your mind but i get to stand still we're probably not going to make a Whole lot of progress here unless you are a very good prosecutor or the other person is very happy to be preached too which you know i think is all too rare when we get into persuasion challenges you might win the battle but you'll lose the war exactly i think it's a mistake to even see it as a war right because yeah in a war your job is to make sure you don't lose too many battles and i One of the more interesting things that psychologists have done when when looking at you know disagreement and debate is to say you know what if we used a different metaphor what if we thought about it as a dance and i'm the worst person to use this metaphor because i cannot dance to save my life my wife actually signed us up for dancing lettings excuse me my wife Signed us up for dancing lessons before our wedding and she quit after the second one it was so bad she she just decided it was hopeless so and allison was 100 right on that and i was very happy to be prosecuted uh for being incapable of rhythm and it was not the the first time i've been told that either but there's something about dancing That says look we're both going to move right and it's um i think a good argument or you know a good debate or a good disagreement is one where neither of us has really choreographed all the steps we're gonna take and sometimes we step forward and sometimes we step back other times we sidestep but ultimately we're actually trying to Get in rhythm or in sync which is a very different goal from trying to change somebody else's mind i think yeah that's a much better way to frame it so how what are the steps that we take for this dance then not only for sharing our opinion but also receiving their opinion so one of my favorite ways to think about that is a classic study by neil rackham of expert negotiators where He compared them both pre-negotiation and actually in the live negotiations to average negotiators to look at what the two groups did differently and the experts they spent far more time planning for and then talking about common ground okay that was the first takeaway so a lot of people when they go to have an argument or win a debate they think their their job Is basically to find the differences quickly so that then they can they can fix them right that's not at all where i want to start i want to start by saying shane let's identify areas that we agree on which gets us in in synchrony right and also says hey you know what this is somebody who shares some of my values or maybe some of my views and that i think that that makes the conversation non-defensive and Collaborative right from the start then a second difference that that jumped out pretty clearly is the experts asked a lot more questions than the average negotiators and they weren't leading questions they were questions motivated by genuine curiosity and i think that there are there are probably better and worse questions to ask here so let's uh let's talk for a second about how versus Why questions so a lot of times when you discover that somebody has a different view from you you naturally will say well why do you think that and the problem is you're setting the other person up for confirmation bias you're you're giving them an invitation to make a list of compelling reasons that they themselves generated for why they're going to cling to their pre-existing convictions right so you're Doing some of their work for them what works much better are sorry what tend to be more effective are how questions where instead of asking why do you believe this you ask how would you implement this or how would that idea work if we were to come to some agreement on it and i i i think you'll get a kick out of this the the classic studies on this are with um actually with mechanical and electronic objects So you do these studies where you ask people like shane can you explain to me right now how if you were to press a can excuse me if you were to press a piano key how does it make music i couldn't you can't you you're not even willing to try no this is like you and dancing man this is just not gonna happen uh so that's exactly where people land usually they take a little longer to get There but interestingly if you if you survey them on their confidence before and after they try to explain okay their confidence goes down right if i just ask you hey how well do you understand how a piano works a lot of people would say pretty well and then as you fumble through the explanation you realize i do not have a clue and i've i've pressed a piano key many times i Literally did not know the first thing about where that sound is coming from right and how the how the mechanics of it operate and that that cultivates intellectual humility right it's the term for it in psychology is the illusion of explanatory depth and the idea is that people think they understand things much more than they actually do and if you ask them to explain how Right uh one version of that is just how does this work another version of that question is how would you explain that to an expert or you know how would you implement that in the real world they suddenly realize gosh i don't really know what i'm talking about and this has been this has recently been demonstrated for policy questions where you know if you've if you've got somebody who disagrees with you on let's Say climate change or on uh tax laws right instead of asking them why they believe what they believe if you were to just ask them well how would you implement that tax law and what are all the effects it would have or how would you you know how would you address this climate problem that i know there are a range of complicated solutions to as they try to answer that they realize how little they Know they become less polarized they're much more open to hearing alternative views and the hope is that you are too that's really interesting i like that and one of the other questions you had in the book and maybe this applies here and it doesn't is how do you know that which is like where is this coming from like how how where did this confidence come from that you your Your position is correct like did you read this in a headline which uh you skimmed or is this something you thought about and i think part of the questions that you're asking there get into that level of depth and detail and has this person actually thought about it so if you're running an organization those questions are great because you can't micromanage all these decisions but How do you quickly test and discern not only people who know what they're talking about from people who don't know what they're talking about but people you can trust from people you can't with a certain level of decision authority one of the ways you can do that is to start asking them about how they're thinking about it and in a level of detail that you're not trying to critique you just want to hear them Walk through it and often people haven't thought about it i think that's that's exactly on point and i think the tone really matters here right well how do you know tone matters in everything out of curiosity man my mom used to say that to me all the time as a teenager it's not what you said it's how you said it it's one of those things that we all need to hear over and over again and What i'm always looking for is you know for for somebody to exude curiosity when they ask the question like oh that's so interesting how do you know like what where what what led you to that belief how did you land there because then it's genuine what i've always told people is just try to see the world through somebody else's eyes that doesn't mean you have to agree with them You just want to see and feel and like smell like what they're seeing and feeling and smelling and that level of knowledge will help you understand them and understand where the common ground is to find win-win i think that is so much easier in theory than in practice though oh totally you probably know that the nick eppley experiments there there are 25 of them showing that on average just encouraging people to take someone else's Perspective did not make them more likely to understand the other person and in some cases actually backfired and that's in part because the more the more different somebody else's perspective is from ours the more likely we are to just invent an explanation or a story that strays very far from the truth so the received wisdom here is that Instead of perspective taking we should actually shift to perspective seeking go out and find out what the person actually thinks right ask them a bunch of questions interview them and you're much more likely to learn where their beliefs are coming from yeah i think that was sort of what i was getting at right like you don't want to just assume their perspective you just want to see the world through their eyes Like legitimately see the world through their eyes and that that helps you understand them better um one of your pet peeves is feign knowledge i want you to talk to me about how you deal with this because you must see it all the time not only as a professor but posturing in organizations and how do you deal with this yeah it it just Do you call people out on it do you it eats it eats at the core of my soul when someone claims to know something that they don't uh it's it's bigger than a pet peeve because it it violates my one of my core values as a scientist which is to form views based on the best logic and evidence available and i have not always dealt with this well so the the story that comes to mind is I was called by an investment bank some years ago and they asked me to figure out how to motivate and retain their junior analyst and associates so i did two months of research i had experiments i had longitudinal survey data interviews observations i had lots of outside research as well as internal data and i came back with 26 evidence-based recommendations And i was presenting them i think it was actually my first ever video conference that i'd done this was at least seven maybe eight years ago um and i'm presenting to the co-heads of investment banking they're on multiple continents and i think i was on about recommendation five or six and one of the co-heads interrupts me and he says well why don't we just pay them more And if there is one recommendation that was not on my list of 26 it was to solve the problem with money because they had already thrown a lot of money at the problem these people were already well paid by which i mean overpaid and if money were going to attract them and retain them it already would have and i'm embarrassed to say that my response at the time was i've never seen a group of smart people act so dumb That did not obviously accomplish a whole lot for me right although they did they did tell me they got a kick out of it later because people don't normally talk to them that way but uh you know i obviously you know i wasn't reasoning with them anymore right i i've i've had a habit sometimes of i think of the The mental modes other than scientists the one that i i spend the most time in is prosecutor mode and i've been accused of being a logic bully from time to time and uh i had clearly in this moment gone from logic bully to playground bully and i decided after that that i wanted to be in scientist mode if somebody had feign knowledge right if somebody if somebody claimed to know something that that they didn't And what would a scientist do a scientist would be just riveted like who is this person how could they possibly possibly believe these things and what is it that would possibly change their mind and so i wrote a little script for how i want to respond whenever somebody challenges my evidence or claims to know something that i think is false which is just to get really curious and say huh Well i wonder what what evidence would change your mind and i don't always remember to ask the question i don't always get curious enough to really want to know but in the situations where i've pulled it off it has completely changed the tone of the conversation and often what will happen is the person will map out the kind of study they would find convincing And now we're on my turf right because i have a mental library of studies that i can then cite and they're helping me figure out which kinds of data they would find compelling it also i find it really helpful because it refocuses the conversation in the realm of evidence as opposed to just opinion right and so when i ask them to tell me what a well-designed study is going to look Like we can then agree on what valid methods are and once i tell them what the findings are using their chosen methods it's a lot harder for for them to just have a knee-jerk objection so i don't know that that's always the question to ask but i think i i decided after that experience that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think And the best thing you can do at the end of a conversation like that then is is to invite the other person to help you rethink your approach and say hey shane you know what i've actually done this now a couple times in mid-conversation i've just interrupted myself and said you know what shane i can tell that the case i'm making right now is just not getting through to you you are not buying this even at all and i don't Want to make this mistake again so if i go and give this pitch to somebody else how would you approach it differently and maybe that puts me in a better position to reason with you a different day or with a different person the hope is i learned something from that conversation and and now we're arguing to learn as opposed to arguing to win i like that question a lot right like What information would be required to change your mind but we often think of asking other people that i think asking yourself that is an incredibly powerful question and it can be done in private you're not calling anybody out you're not putting them on the spot and i think often those conversations where you're challenging other people's knowledge And you have a hint that it might not be there are usually best done in private and not in public for those people listening i think that'll backfire if you you sort of like oh i'm going to make this person look like an idiot in front of everybody else that just causes retaliation tit for tat you go nowhere it doesn't help people it just sort of cements them Um talk to me about this logic bully thing well i had a a student some years ago now her name is jamie and she was trying to make a big career decision about whether to do an mba and if so what school she should go to she i think she she had been accepted at two schools and i just i just said jamie look i i'm not saying you shouldn't do an mba but let me give You all the reasons why i think it might be a waste of time and money you already have an undergrad business degree you don't need an mba for any job that you want and okay maybe there's some firm that will tell you you need it to get promoted in which case i would say you probably shouldn't work at that firm because uh it's it's not like having an md or a jd right there's not a codified body of knowledge That you need to run a business there's no certification that says if you don't have an mba you all of a sudden can't fly this airplane right so i i just i just went through a list of reasons why i thought she might want to rethink the decision because i knew from our she had taken a class with me years earlier and then come to office hours a lot i knew her well enough to know That when that she was very concerned about status and prestige and she was drawn to the credential because she thought it would give her credibility and i just wanted her to think through carefully would you know was this a good use of time and money and if you could take two years and a quarter million dollars is there a better investment of that given your goals and your life Circumstances and i so i didn't have a stake in the outcome but i i argued the other side as i often do uh i guess she activated my prosecutor mode and she just she came back and she said you're a logic bully i was like oh what and she said a logic bully and she went on to tell me that i had overwhelmed her with rational arguments and she didn't agree But she couldn't fight back and my first reaction shane was yes because i thought that was my job as a social scientist right i want to come with airtight logic and rigorous data and make the most compelling case i can to just it i guess at some level i was trying to destroy what i thought was shallow thinking but what i was depriving her of was the opportunity to own her own Choice right and to reason through this for herself and so i've tried to get out of logic bully mode and that same conversation i've had with a number of students now and instead of listing all the reasons i would say all right jamie can you tell me the pros and cons of doing an mba versus not why are you excited about it what are the risks and then i go the extra step And say and why are you coming to me are you here because you want my advice are you here because you're looking for my validation of a decision you've already made or are you here because you want me to challenge your thought process and once i know what her goals are it's a lot easier for me to invite her to rethink some of her assumptions without insulting her or causing her decision process to go Haywire or without making such strong arguments that she thinks i'm trying to give her an answer when i'm really just trying to test her thought process i like that i think that i love that term logic bully and you know you think initially you're like oh this is so helpful and then at the end you're kind of like oh that wasn't what i thought it was going to be I'm curious how do you how do you institute rethinking or how do you help kids not only students but your own kids rethink like what are parents supposed to do at a young age for elementary school kids or high school kids and university students in terms of opening their mind to different possibilities and what sort of things can we do so one of my favorite things that i Learned while i was writing the book came from wisconsin's middle school teacher of the year erin mccarthy what erin does with her students is she gives them a section of a history textbook and she sends them out to rewrite it and what they do is they you know they look at primary sources they interview people and they realize how much information is Missing from the way that we've narrated past events and what that does is it allows them to think a little bit more when they encounter new information like fact checkers right whereas where instead of you know i read something in you know in the news or i heard it on tv it must be true to say well what are the sources of that information and how do we really know And i think we should all be lucky to lucky enough to have a project where we get to rewrite a section of a textbook i thought i thought that was a brilliant assignment a variation on that that we do occasionally at dinner is allison and i with our kids will have a myth busting discussion and i think originally it came about because our our kids Had learned interesting things at school that surprised us like one day um one of our daughters came home and said uh we were we were just doing an egypt unit this was in elementary school and i found out that king tut probably did not die in a chariot accident i was like oh that's so cool that's not what i learned what else are you learning In school that is different from what we thought was true at the time and so it became sort of an occasional tradition for us to to say okay who's going to bring a myth or a fun surprising fact to the table and what i want to do in these whenever we have these conversations is i want our kids to to experience the joy of being wrong to say it is such a delight to discover that something you thought was true was Actually false because now you know you've learned something i i like that a lot i'm still grappling with pluto not being a planet so i'm a little i'm a little sad you and me both shane wait i'm sorry there are only eight planets wait why didn't we just extend the planetary boundary why can't we take the whole kuiper belt and call those planets too this is not doing it for no i begrudgingly accepted that Planetary status is uh is probably much more differences in degree than differences in kind which which is which is a difficult thing to swallow as a uh you know as a closet uh kind of astronomy nerd but i think i think those kinds of moments right if you observe your own emotional reaction in them why was i so upset when i found out that pluto was not a Planet why was declassifying the name of an object the object hasn't changed right it's still floating out there uh it's you know it's still somewhere in the same position than we thought it was doesn't affect my life in any material way why does this bother me so much is because i like to have a set of beliefs about the world that i can count on and you know when it when it comes to my understanding of the solar system it's Like i have a tower made out of jenga blocks and somebody just pulled out the wrong block and all of a sudden the whole tower's coming crashing down and i want a much more solid and sturdy foundation for the things i believe what else do you do with your kids um on the rethinking topic yeah i was starting to think no three love we love to ski we really enjoy uh we love water slides We play word games no i'm on rethinking one of the other things that that we realized a couple years ago we weren't doing enough of was talking about when it comes to teaching values talking about how we had failed to sometimes live our values so you know allison would would often roll her eyes when i would talk to our kids about being givers not takers it's one thing to you know to make that Case it's another thing to say you know what here's a time when i was not kind to somebody in my class who was being bullied and i regret that right that was me failing to be a giver and what what when i tell those stories right when i share mistakes i've made when i talk about embarrassing decisions i've made what i'm trying to Do is i'm trying to signal to our kids that it's okay to be wrong and it's okay to rethink the choices we've made that's to me one of the functions of regret right i think of most negative emotions as teachable moments yeah and the whole point of experiencing them is you're supposed to learn something from what you did wrong so you can make it right in the future and so much of regret is saying okay i Did something that uh that led to an undesirable outcome or that violated one of my values and so how do i do this differently moving forward instead of trying to deny these emotions let's let's actually listen to them and figure out what the lesson is you mentioned rewriting the history section was one of your favorite things that you learned what's another favorite thing you learned When you were writing the book there are so many which which domain the individual the interpersonal or the collective let's do collective um on the collective side i think i mean one of one of the things i just never thought about before was binary bias so i knew i wanted to write a chapter about having charged conversations and how people could talk about the most Divisive issues that many of us have just been shying away from because it feels hopeless and i really came out rethinking my view that what we need to do is is better understand the other side which has been so much the political narrative i think actually that's part of the problem not the solution because there is no charged issue that's ever simple enough to have only two sides Right and the research by peter coleman and his colleagues on this really opened my eyes to the fact that what we want to do is we want to complexify what seems like a spectrum sorry we want to complexify two categories into a spectrum right anytime there's a binary anytime there's a liberal versus conservative or um you know well let me yeah i'll just use that as An example anytime you run into a binary like you know liberals and conservatives you should picture a whole spectrum of beliefs there and say well you know they're relatively conservative and relatively liberal members of each of those groups and if you break down the multiple issues very few people agree with their party on all 16 or 17 of the major issues equally and so if i Can see the nuance there and i can start to get people to think about huh where where in this very nuanced spectrum do i fall then i see more shades of grey and less black and white in my beliefs and so what i've been doing a lot now is catching myself in binary bias right like i i'm so glad in retrospect that give and take had three categories rather than two Because if there were only givers and takers i would have missed the matchers right the the people trading favors who actually are the most common at work and i think that there are so many this this is i mean this is relevant to any part of life but it's something that runs across almost every project i've done in psychology right um the the best leaders are not the introverts or the extroverts on average They're the ambiverts who fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum and are comfortable flexing and talking and listening the most creative people are not the procrastinators like me who dive right in or the procrastinators who wait till the last minute they're the people who are quick to start but slow to finish somewhere in the middle of that spectrum and i think any spectrum that you draw You can almost always find an advantage for being somewhere in the gray and i think we should all do that more often that's flexibility and adaptability right there right bingo one of the the stories from the book that i liked was daniel kahneman teaching you about how to respond to a surprise can you tell us that story yeah so i had this this interesting Experience with i i went to give a speech at a conference and i didn't know a lot about who was gonna be in the audience and i get up on stage and sitting in the audience is danny kahneman nobel prize-winning psychologist one of the giants of our field and of course i was extra nervous and afterward i um i ran into him and he he said something like That was wonderful i was wrong and those two things don't normally go hand in hand right either a talk was wonderful because you were right or it was bad because you were wrong and i i just i couldn't let go of it my first reaction was to say holy cow danny kahneman liked something i said my second reaction was to say this is so strange that he thought it was wonderful to have been wrong what's Behind this and so i ended up following up with him and i asked him you know why i could literally his face lit up when he talked about how exhilarating it was to be wrong and he said it's the only way i know i've learned something right if i find out i was wrong it means i am now less wrong than i was before and he he really talked uh He talked very eloquently about the value of of detaching uh your like we talked about your opinions from your identities your ideas from your identities to say look you know every idea i have it's just a hypothesis might be true might be false and if i if i'm if i have a vested interest in it being true then i'm not going to discover as much as if i really want to find out If it's true or when it's true i think bezos had something along these lines too right where he's like people who don't don't change their mind are wrong so if you want to be right you have to be somebody who changes your mind a lot yeah i i think that it's it's been one of amazon's persistent competitive advantages love them or hate them right they are extremely adaptable and I've i i've thought about this in terms of another two by two i um i met jeff faisos a few years ago and i asked him how he goes about making hard decisions and he said okay basically two questions one is is this decision reversible and the other is how consequential is it how high are the stakes and he's willing to act very quickly any time a decision Is reversible because he can change his mind tomorrow or low stakes because it doesn't really matter the decisions he puts off until the last possible minute maybe even procrastinates on are the ones that are both irreversible and consequential because those are the ones that are not just gambles they are not just experiments those are real commitments and i think This is as relevant to personal decisions as it is to running a company right to say okay before i go into a major decision if it is both irreversible and highly consequential then i want to spend a lot of time rethinking my own views up front whereas if it's pretty easy to reverse and undo or it doesn't really matter i'm going to go forward and make the decision Knowing i'll have time later and the opportunity later to second guess it but it's not enough to just sort of convince yourself you have the opportunity you have to be of the mindset that that's sort of almost what you're looking to do did you learn anything else from jeff and or amazon about how they make decisions because i think they're they're one of the best Large organizations we've ever seen collectively making decisions yeah i think one of the other smart things they do is they really take this idea of process accountability seriously so if if you ever go to a senior leadership meeting at amazon you'll see this sort of awkward experience of people sitting silently reading a memo for 15 20 30 minutes and the reason they do That is they want everybody's thinking careful focused attention around what are the options for this big decisions excuse me what are they what are the alternatives around this big decision we have to make and is it is the problem frame the right way what's the long-term impact of this decision and i think that it is so rare For a world of people who are like we all live in a world where we're too busy and we have too many distractions coming our way constantly how unusual is it to sit down with a group of thoughtful people and read and reflect on a common document and then say okay what assumptions should we be rethinking here and i would be thrilled to see more leaders adopt that practice I think it's brilliant because it doesn't assume people have read it before they come in it gives people time to read it and discuss it one of the things i i noticed when i was sort of running meetings like that is that people would come in and they would have read sort of like the first couple paragraphs because they didn't have time not really their fault in some ways and then they would signal that they've read the Document by rephrasing some of those first and everybody would just do the same thing and i'm like you're all just saying the same thing like we can assume this is knowledge but then you can't actually assume that people have read it so i like the approach of sort of like distilling it down to something digestible giving people time to get on the same page allowing the time In the meeting most meetings don't need to be as long as they are anyway and then everybody's talking from a common base yeah i think it's much more likely if if you adopt that practice that people are actually learning it's also i can't think of a better time to do it than during a pandemic where we're all stretched for time and now if i know the first at least 10-15 minutes of the meeting are going to be processing time that's one thing i've taken off my to-do list yeah right i can i can actually do it during the meeting as opposed to trying to squeeze it in the night before and i like how it's not powerpoint and it's actually like thinking instead of just point form convincing i guess we could we could use more of that there is a part of me that Wonders whether especially again for a high-stakes irreversible decision do you want to send that out in advance encourage people to read it at least the first or second time and then really digest it again when you come together because i i'm not sure this goes back to that second thoughts post that you roast you wrote i'm not sure that our second thoughts are always Our most insightful observations right they're usually the easiest ones to think of and i worry a little bit that in the moment sometimes people will will react based on their initial intuition as opposed to there's a i guess there's a a twist on danny kahneman's work here that that seems relevant which is i worry a lot that we spend too much time listening to people who think fast and Shallow and not enough time hearing people who think slow and deep and i think we want to become the people who think slow and deep because that's where most of our good rethinking happens yeah totally matt mullenweg said in episode 100 he basically puts a time on it so it's like we'll have the meeting we'll discuss it but then you have 48 hours to sort of like surface your Thoughts and that allows people who think slower or want to rethink the opportunity to sort of work through their their their own internal process and then contribute to the group process i like that practice a lot i i wonder how often people worry about being that guy right or that woman like oh no not again 47 hours in to you know to torpedo our decision and Now we have to go have another meeting about it yeah i don't know how often that happens um one of the i want to end with sort of like this question that people say a lot in organizations because i think you'll have a good response to this is people say i'm entitled to my opinion and you know that's their way of ending the conversation and saying you know you can't change my Mind on something how do you respond to that oh i've i i got this one just the other day actually uh i responded by sending the person who said that a copy of my book and saying hey i have a pretty no i i i think you are absolutely entitled excuse me yeah you're entitled to your own opinion if you keep your opinion to yourself If you decide to say it out loud then i think you have a responsibility to be open to changing your mind in the face of better logic or stronger data and so i think if you're willing to voice an opinion you should also be willing to change that opinion i think that's of course easier said than done but i think it goes right back to something we talked about earlier which is to say Okay when would i change my mind and if you can't answer that question you are no longer thinking like a scientist you've gone into preacher prosecutor mode that's a perfect place to end this conversation thank you so much adam you

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