Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Recommendation: Sway-- stop being so irrational. Yes, you.

Did you know that saying to your friend or colleague that "Jeremy is a smart and warm guy" that I am much more likely to be liked than simply by saying "Jeremy is a smart guy?"

Even if the experience of meeting me is exactly the same in every other regard...

That's just one of 100+ examples that the Brafman brothers bring out in their fantastic book "Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior."

My brother, Asher, loves to say, "you need to think about how you think."

For people who agree with that sentiment, this book is for you.

They are great stories and they raise your awareness to the pitfalls of how we are susceptible to irrational things.

For example, in a room full of 20 people (the majority of whom are paid actors) looking at a small circle and a big square where the size differential is not in doubt at all, if you ask them "which is bigger?" and the paid actors DELIBERATELY say "the circle is," the people who aren't paid and who clearly know that the the square is bigger will actually (more often than not) say, "the circle," because of their fear of looking stupid or of missing something. [Note: this isn't the exact story from the book, but you get the gist.]

What the book reminds us of is that humans are wildly unpredictable, irrational and immensely fallible.

We suffer from diagnostic bias (once we have concluded that someone is "bad" or "good," we're extremely unlikely to change our minds, even despite a ton of evidence to the contrary.)

There's all kind of good stuff in here about loss aversion, commitment, incentives, fairness.

All of these things that many of us think we understand, but we really don't.

It's a fun, relatively quick read and while you'll probably forget the names of all of the different "sways" a few days later, the lesson is clear.

In any situation...try to assess what is going on in how people might be swayed based on irrationality.

You may not be able to change anything, but at least you'll see it...and maybe it will help you the next time you have to make a decision.

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