Book Club 02/25/’20: Talking to Strangers

You believe someone not because you have no doubts about them. […] You believe someone because you don’t have enough doubts about them.

Gladwell, 78; emphasis added

WARNING: Spoiler Alert! Some comments in this blog may reveal conclusions made in the book.

Tuesday’s book club had mixed reviews: some hated it (or were indifferent), others loved it. This divide was mainly caused by how Gladwell structures his case study/anecdotal novel/essay/self-help book. This book (difficult to categorize, as evident by the preceding sentence) studies, analyzes and discusses human social interaction gone-wrong in some of it’s most extreme cases. Some stories were actually disturbing for some to read through. What was, as voiced by our team’s harshest critics, the most unsatifying aspect of Gladwell’s writing was how almost every chapter left without any “next-steps” for the reader to apply their learning.

“It seemed like [Gladwell] would argue, ‘Here’s why we suck at talking to other people. Oh well.'” critics (at Sport & Social Club) would rave.

But others liked that about it. Fans of Gladwell’s newest NYT best-seller appreciated how talking to strangers really is “complicated” and there is no cut-and-dry solution to this human nature/life glitch.

The key takeaways for the Sport & Social Club mainly addressed “Defaulting to Truth” and how we interpret other’s body language — specifically facial expression.

Defaulting to truth is the tendency to believe another person over disbelieving them – yes, it’s that simple. We are much better at believing people are telling the truth than we are at detecting lies. When we do believe people are conveying false information however, we come to this conclusion through a source of evidence that is fairly inconsistent and variant accross cultures and unique individuals: by the look on their face. Some of the most infamous sociopaths present a facade so brilliantly, that people would ignore obvious signs and fair evidence because, “they seem so normal.” How they seem should be irrelevant — the evidence should be all that matters.

We’ve been lucky enough to have avoided hiring any sociopaths at the Sport & Social Club (that we know of). We pride ourselves off hiring only top-tier talent, who are personable and enthusiastic players. And we’re pretty damn good at it (it took me a total of 4 interviews and 2 lengthy homework assignments before I made the team; and I’m bloody brilliant!). However, like most businesses, some of the workers who have come and gone were not as great as they seemed, and vice versa; some barely made the final cut, yet they impress us everyday. Perhaps this is due to how we interpret the way what we human beings are evolved to: by reading candidates’ faces in pair with their resume.

While not everyone in the room of our bimonthly book club were overly impressed by Gladwell’s work, most of us still enjoyed the conversation: “What we should know about the people we don’t.” The answer may surprise you.

We wanna hear your thoughts! Drop a comment down below what you thought of the book and what stuck with you the most!