Blink

“A small miracle happened…they saw her for who she truly was.”

That’s perhaps the best sentence to understand the power of this book. In reviewing this book, allow me again to quote from this thought provoking book:

“The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.

So, when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them? Answering that questions in the second task of Blink.

The third and most important task of this book is to convince you that our snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, p. 14-15

I love a book that causes me to think and look closer at moments when I’m not even reading the book.

As I was carefully picking out my path along the snowy parking lot and sidewalks in my flip flops on the way to Bed Bath and Beyond, I was thinking about Silvan Tomkins and Paul Ekman. Could they really interpret a person’s authentic feelings by paying close attention to the movements of someone’s facial muscles? Could they see more than skilled lawyers trying to detect through artful questioning if someone was lying or knew more than they were letting on?

I had found myself observing faces more closely and wondering what emotions were behind the seemingly ordinary and sometimes incremental movements of their face. After arriving at my destination, I stood in line at behind two other customers, and found myself watching the face of the employee as she interacted with the customers. I pretended I knew what she was thinking. She was tired after a long day of work and bored with the monotony of the day.

I was returning an item that we had bought earlier that day at a different location. But when I went to pay I realized that I had left my gift card at home. So my plan was to buy it anyway (because they might not have what we wanted at the location closer to where I lived) and then return it later that day at the location closer to my house and use my gift card to buy it back. After I had finished my return she said her obligatory, “Have a good day.” and I noticed her lips tighten with a small smile, and I thought, “She was bugged.”

But again, my skills are at a novice level and it possible I misread her completely.

Curiosity lead me to take a few tests on implicit.harvard.edu to see what my unconscious basis were, but perhaps do so if you’re willing to confront yourself. I’ll admit, I wanted to hide the results from some of my tests and not tell a soul about them. But now my thoughts have turned to wondering what I can do to change some of my unconscious biases.

The first time I heard Verna Myers’s Ted Talk on biases I was drawn in: We gotta get out of denial…You know, I do a lot of diversity work, and people will come up to me at the beginning of the workshop. They’re like, “Oh, Ms. Diversity Lady, we’re so glad you’re here” — (Laughter) — “but we don’t have a biased bone in our body.” And I’m like, “Really? Because I do this work every day, and I see all my biases.” I mean, not too long ago, I was on a plane and I heard the voice of a woman pilot coming over the P.A. system, and I was just so excited, so thrilled. I was like, “Yes, women, we are rocking it. We are now in the stratosphere.” It was all good, and then it started getting turbulent and bumpy, and I was like, “I hope she can drive.” (Laughter) I know. Right. But it’s not even like I knew that was a bias until I was coming back on the other leg and there’s always a guy driving and it’s often turbulent and bumpy, and I’ve never questioned the confidence of the male driver. The pilot is good. Now, here’s the problem. If you ask me explicitly, I would say, “Female pilot: awesome.” But it appears that when things get funky and a little troublesome, a little risky, I lean on a bias that I didn’t even know that I had. You know, fast-moving planes in the sky, I want a guy.

Her open and honest story about her own confrontation with her biases is a wake up call to us all. The reality is that sometimes we are blind to our biases, and being blind to them is dangerous.

I’ll be honest, I wonder about my writing sometimes. What if one day on Oprah she announced that she stumbled across a blog that she found enlightening and thought provoking. And what if that blog was mine. And what if that was the only thing that changed? Would others see something valuable in my writings? Do we see something and know that it is good because we are so good at being able to decide for ourselves? Or are our opinions and tastes swayed by the people and numbers who already say they are good?

January 1, 2020

Time writing: 1 Hour

Total time writing on this blog: 172 hours