The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking

911 words - 4 pages

When I read the profiles of John as an introvert and as an extrovert, my mind kept returning to the thought that both of these stories were about the same man; that each told the story of that man in different circumstances. Immediately, my mind led me down the road of creating the story behind John. Was the extrovert John his normal persona, but introvert John showed up on a melancholy day? Or perhaps, Jon was usually very introverted, but we caught him on a particularly optimistic day in the extroverted scenario? I found myself wanting more details; wondering why he had not spoken with the pretty girl from last night. Why did he need the stationery? How does he know so many people in the paper store? Obviously, he is not a total recluse if he had the opportunity to see the pretty girl. My reaction is explained easily enough by author Malcolm Gladwell, "We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We're a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don't really have an explanation for." (Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking , 2005) Gladwell clarifies that when we are missing the details we crave to fill these gaps in the stories, we feel the need to create them ourselves. He further defines this behavior as “rapid cognition” which is, “…the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions.” (Gladwell, 2005) We utilize rapid cognition on a daily basis to judge people and situations all around us. It is a subconscious process in which we size up a person or situation in approximately two seconds. One can imagine the power we would gain if we could acknowledge those times when we may have made judgments too quickly, and regretted the results of that decision later. While hindsight is an amazing tool, prevention is even more advantageous. What would happen if we took five seconds to make a judgment, or even 5 minutes before we drew any conclusions about a person, or a process we have been introduced to? This could reduce or eliminate a number of awkward situations and bad decisions that we expose ourselves to when we utilize a two second thought process.

Rapid cognition happens constantly during the change management process in the workplace, and is something leaders need to be aware of. For example, if during a team meeting, you introduce a new way of approaching performance management that is...

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