Adam Grant engaged my intellect and curiosity in his 2021 book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. Plus, I immediately told friends and acquaintances about it. In fact, I didn’t wait until I finished the book. It’s timely and relevant to people’s frustrations about communication today.
Truthfully, it addresses many topics about life that make me both sad and angry. Grant gave me both strategies and a renewed sense of hope for communication. Still, the changes he suggests aren’t easy. They take focus and persistence. But every idea seems doable, important, and well worth the effort.
Grant divides the book into sections—individual, interpersonal, and collective rethinking. Building from our thoughts to our societal perspectives allows him to address multiple issues with today’s typical communication. Grant explains how people’s individual styles lead to polarization, which multiplies to a broader reality thanks to the media, among other things.
But despite Grant’s discussion of society-wide implications, he offers plenty of ideas for our individual conversations. Still, starting with our own thinking is vital. Grant offers the idea of confident humility, which he explains this way:
“What we want to attain is confident humility: having faith in our capability while appreciating that we may not have the right solution or even be addressing the right problem. That gives us enough doubt to reexamine our old knowledge and enough confidence to pursue new insights.”
Shortly before reading Think Again, we had a conversation with our grown son, who works in the technology sector. He’s job interviewing and recounted one experience. His concern was that the interviewing manager didn’t have much curiosity and seemed highly confident. That’s similar to the work situation he’s hoping to leave. And as soon as I saw that Grant talks about the power of curiosity, I recommended the book to our son.
I felt challenged by Grant’s ideas, but not overwhelmed. He knows how to break down the concept of rethinking into manageable pieces. That makes it seem achievable. Grant also uses plenty of examples from his life and other sources, which also add to the readability.
Debating a charged topic with someone who throws many arguments at you feels impossible. The other person is clearly trying to “win the battle,” and I inevitably choose retreat. Grant, however, offered me other options that give me hope. He says,
“Our role is to hold up a mirror so they can see themselves more clearly and then empower them to examine their beliefs and behaviors. That can activate a rethinking cycle, in which people approach their own views more scientifically. They develop more humility about their knowledge, doubt in their convictions, and curiosity about alternative points of view.”
If these ideas intrigue you, please give the book a try. Adam Grant is a professor and writer who teaches with humor and profound ideas.