Rethinking – Adam Grant Way

Rethinking – Adam Grant Way

“I am reading this book” I kept it aside for Lulu, my parrot, to flip through. Lulu is a voracious reader; this invitation to see a book was too tempting for him.

“All American authors follow a formula. They begin by telling a story and then introduce the subject and develop it.”

“Those are standard packs for creative writing. This is the world of standardization. Be that as it may, but they still write some good stuff. This book is ‘Think Again,’ and the subtitle is ‘The Power of Knowing What You Do Not Know’.”

“Adam Grant is my favourite author. I have read ‘Think Again.’” Trust Lulu, my parrot to be so well informed. “He makes an interesting point in the prologue to the book. ‘We don’t just hesitate to rethink our answers. We hesitate at the very idea of rethinking.’”

“I see your point. Grant says ‘We hesitate at the very idea of rethinking.’ Wow! I wonder if he had Donald Trump in mind. Actually, it goes for all political leaders – Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah, Mamata Banerjee, Uddhav Thackeray and the like.”

“Grant calls it ‘Overconfidence Cycle.’ Pride leads to Conviction which leads to Confirmatory or Desirability Bias and that leads to Validation of their views, which in turn leads to more Pride! That’s the ‘Overconfidence Cycle.’ Listening is a forgotten art, or practice. Listening actively, I mean.”

“So true, Lulu.

“When you listen actively you engage in finding out ‘what you do not know.’ Grant calls it the Rethinking Cycle. It goes like this: Humility helps you to listen to the other view which leads to Doubt the currently held view, and that in turn leads to Curiosity which results in Discovery.”

“There is always the other side of the story. They say that ‘There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.’”

“The interesting part of this book is that it just does not talk of Individual Rethinking, but also of Interpersonal Rethinking. And Collective Rethinking.”

“Interpersonal rethinking involves influencing people, and allowing oneself to be influenced – in the right sense.”

“Allowing oneself to be influenced? Oh! That’s like climbing the Everest. Don’t you remember the song from the movie My Fair Lady where Professor Higgins says,

‘Why can’t a woman be more like a man? / Men are so honest, so thoroughly square; /Eternally noble, historically fair / Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat / Why can’t a woman be like that?’”

“Ha, ha! Such a typical attitude of those who would not listen and rethink. Or they hesitate at the very idea of rethinking, as Grant says.”

“It gets worse when our bias shows. Grant tells the story of a black person who meets a white supremacist. The extreme bias and hatred of the white supremacist against the black person leads to the black person asking him ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?’”

“‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?’ What a question! I wonder if Hindus and Muslims will ask this question to themselves. Or for that matter members of political parties. Grant says ‘We don’t just identify with our own group; we disidentify with our adversaries. Applying group stereotypes to individuals is absurd.’”

“Interestingly, Grant also tells us how to get others to rethink. He calls it ‘Motivating Through Interviewing.’”

“We can’t motivate others to change, notwithstanding what the so called ‘Motivational Speakers’ claim.”

“That’s true. Grant says we can help them find their own motivation to change. He tells us the technique too which has three steps: Asking open ended questions, Engaging in reflective listening and Affirming the person’s desire and ability to change.”

“Sounds easy but I know it will take some practice to perfect this art. I reckon it is a skill. And that means anyone can master it.”


“In a world where power is used to influence people, perhaps the only method used to influence people, this seems to be a good and respectful approach.”

“You said it.”

“I feel that this book has come a bit late in my life. Had I read it earlier I would have been more effective person.”

“Oh! Then make most of this regret. All is not lost.” Lulu opened the book and looked at me.

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Feature pic: Courtesy Harli Marten on Unsplash, other pic Christina on Unsplash