Think Again Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Think Again teaches us the power of being humble about what we don’t know, how to recognize blind spots in our thinking, and how to more effectively enlist people for our cause, thus bolstering our intelligence, persuasiveness, and self-awareness.

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Do you remember the Blackberry smartphone? In 2009, Blackberry controlled about half of the entire smartphone market. Fast forward five years later, and they became almost nonexistent – the company now had a market share of just 1%.

What happened? The creator of Blackberry, Mike Lazaridis, wouldn’t change his mind. When Apple’s iPhone just started gaining market share, Lazaridis believed most customers just wanted a phone to do the basics — make calls and emails. Well, we all know how that went. 

The lesson? Sometimes we need to rethink our beliefs. Conviction is easy and comfortable. But what could the world be like if we all opened our minds regularly?

In Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant, we explore the science of changing our mind. Grant teaches us why we should not only doubt but also rethink our beliefs entirely from time to time.

Here are the 3 most helpful lessons this book taught me:

  1. You can never know what you don’t know, so stay humble.
  2. With the right tools and experiences, even the most ignorant people can change their minds.
  3. Ask people questions to convince them of your point of view.

Think you’ve got life all figured out? You better Think Again!

Think Again Summary

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Lesson 1: If you want to be smarter and more likable, admit that you don’t know everything.

Most of us are completely unaware of the things we aren’t good at. In fact, sometimes we even think we are good at the things we are the worst at. For example, studies have found that people who score lowest on logical reasoning and sense of humour tests also have the most overinflated perception of their abilities in these areas. 

Making matters worse, someone who falsely believes they’re good at something is less likely to try to improve in that skill. A study of emotional intelligence found that those participants with the lowest emotional intelligence scores were the least likely to want help in improving their emotional intelligence. 

So what can we do about this apparent blind spot? Stay humble. If you start admitting that you don’t know everything, you will open up to learning new things. You’ll become more competent. Also, humility and confidence aren’t mutually exclusive qualities. 

Confidence is all about self-belief, while humility means you are willing to examine your own methods. Successful people have both. They are confident in their ability to succeed eventually but humble enough to evaluate whether or not they are using the best methods to achieve that goal. 

Lesson 2: Sometimes, even the most ignorant people change their minds.

Grant tells the story of Black musician Daryl Davis. In 1983, he started talking to Ku Klux Klan members to convince them to change their minds about race. Since then, he has persuaded many to rethink their beliefs and leave. One of these former KKK members even asked Davis to be a godfather to his daughter. 

As Davis’s story illustrates, one of the best ways to change people’s prejudiced beliefs is to show them how arbitrary the beliefs are. When Davis talked to the Klan members, he realized many only had white supremacist beliefs because their family did. 

He encouraged them to think about the roots of why they believed what they did. From there, they began to question racism and, in the end, often changed their minds about it. 

Grant also saw this phenomenon when he studied animosity between Yankees and Red Sox fans. Both sides typically believed the other group to be arrogant, aggressive, and unpleasant. 

In an experiment, Grant told the baseball fans to write an essay about how random some of the reasons they hated the other side were. He also had them think that if they were born into a different family, they probably would like whatever team they supported. After writing the essays, fans on both sides realised that their prejudices were actually wrong and even silly. 

So, if you want someone to change their mind, don’t just tell them they’re wrong and why. One of the best ways to make someone rethink their beliefs is to show them the only reason they have those beliefs is because of chance. 

Lesson 3: If you want to convince people of your perspective, ask them the right questions.

Another solid way to get people to rethink their beliefs is to interview them with the right questions. Grant tells the story of a young mother who was an anti-vaxxer or someone who didn’t want her baby to get the measles vaccine.

The maternity ward staff brought in Dr Arnaud Gagneur, who they knew could help. He used what is known as motivational interviewing and an effective persuasion technique that helps people find their own reasons to rethink something rather than just giving them your reasons why they should change their mind. 

This type of interview begins with honest curiosity to understand where the beliefs come from. Gagneur started by asking the woman open-ended questions about why she felt the way she did about this vaccine. Gagneur then began to ask about how she felt about the consequences of not vaccinating her child.

A motivational interviewer doesn’t simply try to persuade someone with many facts; they listen instead. So Gagneur acknowledged her fears in a technique known as reflective listening. When he was finished, he emphasized that it was her choice. 

Sometimes, people don’t change their minds because they want to have their own freedom than actually disagreeing, so it’s so important to give someone the freedom to make their own decision. After the interview, she decided on her own to vaccinate her baby, with no persuasion needed.

Think Again Review

I love Think Again! This is the kind of book that would do a lot of good if everybody in the world read it. I also like that it will make anyone who reads it and applies what it teaches smarter, more humble, and more likable as well!

Who would I recommend our Think Again summary to?

The 61-year-old who always gets into political debates and can never be wrong, the 21-year-old that wants to learn how they can start their adult life off on the right foot, and anyone who is tired of a world that’s constantly fighting.

Last Updated on October 30, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.