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Lessons from Literature- Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell


I recommend “Talking to Strangers” to everyone BECAUSE, I believe it opens you to understand that there are many reasons why people are the way they are. There are so many events and influences that contribute to why we behave the way we do. It is important to understand that when someone is behaving in a way that we don’t understand, that there is a reason for that. Also, if someone is behaving in a way that we expect, there is a reason for that too, and it many not be the reason that we expect. Communication is a grey area, there are no right answers. Learning to be aware of yourself, not taking things personally or making assumptions are essential for getting to know someone.

Malcolm Gladwell uses real life examples to explain why controversial situations turned out the way they did.

Truth- Default- Unconsciously, most people naturally want to believe that when we meet strangers that they are good people. This allows us to function as a community and as a result, helps us to survive.

Mis-Match- When someone’s behaviors do not match our expectations. This makes us question the mis-matched individual and unfortunately for them, we may wrongly assess their actions and intentions.

Coupling- When behavior is linked to a specific location. There are studies that Malcolm refers to that show some locations are highly linked to specific behaviors. Once the location was no longer accessible, the behavior ceased.

If you knew that how you communicate with someone impacts their memory, would you be more thoughtful? If there is a reason why victims of abuse don’t fight back or leave their abuser, would that change how you interact with the people in your life that are experiencing abuse?

Malcolm gives a few examples of why victims of abuse don’t necessarily remember the abuse or who did it and how it ties into the truth-default.

So, next time you are confronted with a situation or a person’s behavior, take a minute to contemplate what is actually going on before jumping to conclusions. Everyone has their reasons and it is rarely, if ever, black and white.

Note: If you do decide to read this book, which I hope you do, I encourage you to read it factually opposed to emotionally.

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