Book Review: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

We all do it. Walking into a room, we see a person, or encounter a situation and in a flash (or blink) we make judgements about who they are, or how we should respond. Maybe our judgements are positive, or maybe they’re negative but the judgement is there and we often are unaware of the path that led us to that conclusion. In 2005 (I know…I’m a bit late on this bandwagon) Malcolm Gladwell, a writer for the New Yorker magazine, wrote an ambitious book about what happens, behind the curtain of our mind, in that fraction of a second before our judgement is made. As a culture, we tend to believe that long, thought out decisions are generally the best way to make a decision, and so, work hard to make that the only way we decide anything.

Gladwell’s premise for this book is that while our snap judgements are made quickly and without intentional thought, they are surprisingly accurate. And on the flip side, when we accumulate a mountain of information, though we feel more confident in our decision, the information doesn’t always translate to a better decision.

Carrying with this thought, these decisions affect our daily life in ways we don’t always see. They alter the way we treat others (positive and negative), how we lead people, how we choose to date people, and how we help people. These unseen moments are game changers, and Blink helps to make the “unseen” become, well, “seen.”

Citing dozens of examples, including the massive 2002 war games, a Harvard “race-word-association” study,  a forged Greek statue, and a tragic shooting in New York City, we see how, unbeknownst to us, our subconscious works, and allows us to make a split second decision that, more often than not, is surprisingly correct.

This is the second of Malcolm Gladwell’s books that I’ve read, (the other being The Tipping Point) and I continue to be impressed. He is one of the best story tellers alive, and I believe, successfully challenges the current ways of thinking about thinking. This book turns will on their head the way the reader thinks about decisions, and in the end, will help them to become a better (or more aware) decision maker.

I rate this book a 9/10


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