Quotes from Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Posted on 2/1/2020, 4:34:26 AM

“To assume the best about another is the trait that has created modern society. Those occasions when our trusting nature gets violated are tragic. But the alternative - to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception - is worse.”

― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know

“The conviction that we know others better than they know us—and that we may have insights about them they lack (but not vice versa)—leads us to talk when we would do well to listen and to be less patient than we ought to be when others express the conviction that they are the ones who are being misunderstood or judged unfairly. The same convictions can make us reluctant to take advice from others who cannot know our private thoughts, feelings, interpretations of events, or motives, but all too willing to give advice to others based on our views of their past behavior, without adequate attention to their thoughts, feelings, interpretations, and motives. Indeed, the biases documented here may create a barrier to the type of exchanges of information, and especially to the type of careful and respectful listening, that can go a long way to attenuating the feelings of frustration and resentment that accompany interpersonal and intergroup conflict.”

― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know 

“The thing we want to learn about a stranger is fragile. If we tread carelessly it will crumple under our feet... The right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humility.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

 

“The first set of mistakes we make with strangers—the default to truth and the illusion of transparency—has to do with our inability to make sense of the stranger as an individual. But on top of those errors we add another, which pushes our problem with strangers into crisis. We do not understand the importance of the context in which the stranger is operating.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

 

“To assume the best about another is the trait that has created modern society. Those occasions when our trusting nature gets violated are tragic. But the alternative—to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception—is worse.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

 

“Defaulting to truth is a problem. It lets spies and con artists roam free.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

 

“The Holy Fool is a truth-teller because he is an outcast. Those who are not part of existing social hierarchies are free to blurt out inconvenient truths or question things the rest of us take for granted.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

 

“Pronin calls this phenomenon the “illusion of asymmetric insight.” She writes: The conviction that we know others better than they know us—and that we may have insights about them they lack (but not vice versa)—leads us to talk when we would do well to listen and to be less patient than we ought to be when others express the conviction that they are the ones who are being misunderstood or judged unfairly.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

 

“The conviction that we know others better than they know us—and that we may have insights about them they lack (but not vice versa)—leads us to talk when we would do well to listen and to be less patient than we ought to be when others express the conviction that they are the ones who are being misunderstood or judged unfairly.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

 

“Criminals were people who operated outside social constraint. They were driven by their own dark impulses: mental illness, greed, despair, anger. Weisburd had been taught that the best way to understand why criminals did what they did was to understand who they were. “I call it the Dracula model,” Weisburd said. “There are people and they’re like Dracula. They have to commit crime. It’s a model that says that people are so highly motivated to commit crime, nothing else really matters.” Yet if criminals were like Dracula, driven by an insatiable desire to create mayhem, they should have been roaming throughout the 72nd. The kinds of social conditions that Draculas feed on were everywhere. But the Draculas weren’t everywhere. They were only on particular streets.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“The conviction that we know others better than they know us—and that we may have insights about them they lack (but not vice versa)—leads us to talk when we would do well to listen and to be less patient than we ought to be when others express the conviction that they are the ones who are misunderstood or judged unfairly. Pronin”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“Coupling is the idea that behaviors are linked to very specific circumstances and conditions.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“Prejudice and incompetence go a long way toward explaining social dysfunction in the United States.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“nothing about the Aztecs, except to be in awe of their wealth and the extraordinary city they had built. Montezuma knew nothing of Cortés, except that he had approached the Aztec kingdom”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“whenever he goes to the doctor’s office is that forty cents of every health-care dollar goes to either fraud or waste.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“What is required of us is restraint and humility. We can put up barriers on bridges to make it more difficult for that momentary impulse to become permanent. We can instruct young people that the kind of reckless drinking that takes place at a fraternity party makes the task of reading others all but impossible. There are clues to making sense of a stranger. But attending to them requires care and attention”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“this is the assumption of transparency in action. We tend to judge people’s honesty based on their demeanor. Well-spoken, confident people with a firm handshake who are friendly and engaging are seen as believable. Nervous, shifty, stammering, uncomfortable people who give windy, convoluted explanations aren’t.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“We start by believing. And we stop believing only when our doubts and misgivings rise to the point where we can no longer explain them away.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

“That’s the consequence of not defaulting to truth. If you don’t begin in a state of trust, you can’t have meaningful social encounters.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

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