« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#158 — Understanding Humans in the Wild

2019-05-30 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Adam Grant about the social science of the workplace. They discuss how teams work effectively, the nature of power, personality types and fundamental styles of interaction, the critical skill of saying “no,” creativity, resilience, the strange case of Jonas Salk, the nature of mindfulness, the power of cognitive reappraisal, reflections on mortality, the replication crisis in social science, and other topics. 

SUBSCRIBE to listen to the rest of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast at samharris.org/subscribe.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
What really make it says by against SAM hers. No house even today, jump right into it today. I speaking Adam Grant optimism organizational psychologist, who teaches the Warden Business School, where he has been the top ranked professor for seven straight years. He is a leading expert on bringing social science into the workplace,
he's the author for New York Times best selling books, including given take originals option b and power moves. He also hosts the work Life podcast in Association with TED and he's a repeated TED speaker anyway. The list at his academic distinctions is long and we get into some of his core interests and the steps that we talk about how teams work effectively. We talk about the nature of power, personality types and what Adam Has described as the fundamental styles of interaction giving taken imagine I would hope that the critical skill of saying no creativity. Resilience would cover the strange case of Jonas Salk, which is surprising I browbeat Adam for no good
on time about mindfulness and he proves a very good sport anyway. I've had a very useful conversation and I hope you do as well, and I bring you Adam Grant I am here with Adam Grant Adam thanks for come on the package for having so there's a lot about I've, been getting deepened here material. Before we talk about any of your books, and other areas of interest at how do you summarize your car, you're and enemy the one set up point? I would make us that you are a much cell, waited academic, but you you actually have a couple more. Obviously entrepreneurial and sort of breaking up. The mould approach to Europe career? At this point of view, you consult with a lot of companies, you your visible, waited many academics aren't, as I'm wondered how you think about your career,
you got into your pile of interests, so I I fell in love lever psychology when I was in undergrad and wishes fascinated by the idea that you can take the tools of sites and applied The human behavior adds a new and knew I was interested in it. I had no idea where I wanted to take it and my freshman year of College, I was in the middle of Manchester classes and ended up taken advertising sales job and I was horrible added. I had. I think a group of clients who had a ninety five percent renewal rate and I called up a bunch of them my first week and had zero contracts, they all turned out and three people demanding their money back in the previous year is really bad and dad I'd. Read Robber told you he's book persuasion here, what are my sight classes and I immediately started apply from the principles and I got better at the job and I started to see other ways that psychology was useful. It and then the next year I got promoted in this manager role where had
had a higher team and I to motivate them, and I had a seven figure budget as a nineteen year old, and I just I myself using everything, I was learning in psychology to try to get better at work, and I think eventually, what click for me then there's so much good insight in in the Social Sciences that just not useful in the world and I feel, like most of us, spend majority of our waking hours at work and yet, and so many people don't find what they do in their jobs, meaningful motivating, and I wanted to fix that, and so I guess deliberately chosen applied field where, instead of being discouraged from from doing work that that was useful to people would actually courage to do that. So you re are right written. So Europe your Phd as an organizational psychology guilty yessir. Does that overlap, with operations research or that these two very little there are few people who bridge the two, but I did so did met his genius act. Apartment and sad bunch of my classes were in a business, school sort of studying management, but most of my training was kind of like think about it. A social and personality psychology
applied to work where we take your job and organizational culture that surrounds he really seriously. So What do we know about work Career and power and influence of his is a very big question, but I want to go into this area What do we know based on the social science that is most actionable most important to know and is therefore most useful and people's lives? Where do you want to start we'll start with this, so that a noun like a person's career or work. What advice you have what you think you you know as a result of being a specialist in this area that the average person might not know this funny. The question. My students ask all the time and I never know how to answer it, but I think I think I have something based on years of trial and error that so I think when most people choose jobs, they choose based on the nature of the work and they choose based on the status of the organization. You now holding constant fact
there's like pay, for example, and I think there's a there's big miss factor there, which is culture. We know we decades of evidence, that the culture of the organisation that you join has as much impact on your happiness, your success and even your could career trajectory as the actual work itself or you know, as you know, characteristics of the job. That you take and yet we don't know we don't know how to consider that, because cultures messy right, it's hard to measure it's hard to recognise. Sometimes we get conflicting queues and serve with. I guess what I would without suggests is for anybody is looking for practical advice on how to wait. Busily responsibility first interview company once they give you the job right, you have to say. Is this a place where I can be a successful and where I can flourish and if you ask about what the cultures like you get a bunch of platitudes, back people's savings like oh, we value integrity and excellence. Will every other company claims that too,
I think we're! U really learn about a culture. Is you ask people to tell a story about something that happened in their workplace? That will not happen anywhere else, and if you ask a bunch of people in the same organisation that question you can start to recognise patterns in the stories, Sir, it is a classic study on this where you know, everybody thinks their own organisation is unique, but then hear the same roughly seven stories over and over again, so people tell stories about how the little person can get to the top or not right or, I have a big bosses, human or about will I get fired. If I make a mistake and if you break down all these stories, you see is that fundamentally there about. Is this organisation a safe place to work? Is it a fair place to work, and can I make a dent around here, can have an impact on influence and those that those are the things people really care about the culture, and so I think that anybody is choosing a job oughta, be asking those questions, gathering the stories and and trying to get to the bottom of ok. What what is this place mean in terms?
safety, justice and control and impact right. Now. What would you say to someone who's running and distributed team because intact there? Many companies, like it's. Why? I not have a team for the first time in my life and they're, virtually all long distance, and so there's not the same kind of cohesive culture, cuz no one's showing up to an office, and there is a huge company I remember talking to Matt Molin Wegg, who start word, erasure he's got something like eleven people are in office end in over a thousand times that distributed. What's is, is that just day a filter that will select for people who don't need? all of the trappings of culture. Where had we think about that? It might be. I think that though lotta people find substitutes for culture so you know if your organizations distributed, and you don't feel like you now. You have clear valley, use or norms our sense of community eggs. You interact with those people. Very often you tend to find it then, instead in your profession, Renzo Intact, you find that you know groups of engineers,
to spend a lot of time together, even if they work at different organisations, even if their in a co workers space where it. What they're trying to do often say we want to build a culture around our profession, where we have set a belief that are important to us in a set of practices that we try to stick to and then maybe improve over time, and I think if, if that's the world you live in, I think most people want to feel like there are part of an organisation where they can make a bigger contribution than if they were just working seller. Rand. I see culture as mostly a force that reduces friction in doing that right, because so much of the collaboration in court How should we do causes us when we work with other people to become less than the sum of our parts, and I feel like part of what we were trying to do in building an organizational culture is to say: ok, how do we We get people on the same page in terms of what their mission their values are their ways. Working together, and hopefully we can do tat in such a way that Then, when we work together, we actually accomplish things together that we couldn't solo, and so I guess they concretely
if you work in a distributed team, one of my favorite new practices, to write a user manual for how to work with you effectively have ever done the scent. Oh, no, I learned this. Actually, my wife should write that manual. Work that this is actually one of the key insights prejudice is you, people. You know you well to write the manual for you, but it's it's stunning to me that when you buy a computer or a car, there's a manual for had operated, but the other people you work with, who are way more complex than any piece of technology or machinery. There's no user matter. For how to work with them. So em there's a group, a managers at ban, the consulting firm. Who, who did this really well, they said? Are it would go to all my teams that have worked with for a long time have them right, the one pager for what brings out the best in me. What brings out the worst me, what would you want to know if today were day one of working with me and what am I blind spots and then where we're gonna collect all those working to create one document around it, and then I'm going to share it with anybody who works with me in the future, and I think it such an easy way to try to make sort of, I guess collaboration a little bit more
double and also not push each other's buttons interestin is there more. That. We know about the variables that conspire to make collaboration more than the sum of the parts rather than less than the sum of the parts yeah. I I think we know less than we should. I think the first thing that the starting point for me is that a lot of collaboration shouldn't exists in the first place, So what am I? What am I first mentors? Does Richard Hackman, who spent a half century studying teams, and he did it because he hated working with other people and he his career where he went to figure out. How does anybody ever worked? Catherine, actually, you know not only do it well that sort of enjoy it, and yet he had a fun philosophy for what an organizational psychologist does, which is you take all the jobs that you wish you had had pursued and you get to live and vicariously studying them, and so he wanted to to be a spy. And so he went and studied U S, intelligence agencies and how to improve their effectiveness,
He was interested in being a musician at one point, so he studied symphony orchestras and how to increase the quality music. They played he loved flying, and so he studied airline, cockpit crews, and so he was. He was constantly looking across these different worlds, to figure out what made a team great and when one of his most basic findings was that, for the most part teams fail when you give them tasks that are better by individuals like, for example, writing a book really bad idea to have left. Multiple people read a book to get and wrote especially more than two, especially if they don't share a voice and there's not kind of one consistent, narrator ripe, and I think that that the first question to ask is is a task that really requires interdependent collaboration, or is it is ass, its better done by individual people working separately that rings of you bills. So what
out power again workers leaping from now, and now you now consult with a loud powerful people had he think about power in your twenty nineteen. Well, I guess you know it. When I was taught growing up, is that power corrupts? I remembered middle school looking at the post or on the wall, and it was the the Lord ACT and Quotas said: power corrupts in absolute power corrupts absolutely they have that up in your school gad, my middle school classrooms, neither Namesneezer for three years. I stared at it for three years. And I dont know if I was sceptical of it then, but there was something about the didn't sit right with me- have a good at what I found really bothersome about. It was that it gave it gave individuals, no agency. You know it is like ok, if, if a good person becomes powerful yeah, we all hope is lost and that that just didn't ring true to me, I guess intuitively in fast forward a couple decades. We now have a growing body of evidence in psychology that yes, power can corrupt, but I think more often it reveals, sir,
You know what at one of we see pretty consistently. Is that the way people use power depends on their preexisting values and guide ethical lots of good examples of this year? We have control experiments that show it, but there the pattern looks a lot like. I think of two lawyers who got into public office and one of them was was threatened to be disbarred. In the first case he ever tried, and the judge said I doubt that you have the ethical qualifications to practice law and that lawyers name was Richard eggs and right cribs. It's also clear that power corrupted him. I think he was correct to begin with, and then he ended up using power and a corrupt away once he he gained the highest office in America. There's another lawyer who was so ethical that he ended up refusing a client because he said, I believe your guilty and therefore I cannot defend someone that you know that I don't believe as innocent and that lawyer also became present. His name is Abraham, Lincoln Private and I think that either to meet
at the arc of what we learn in psychology is is very often yeah. It's it's not that power necessarily correct people, although it can be a powerful force right, it can be hard to resist some of the temptations of power. The intoxication is me described at right, but I think that more often people and morphing power to serve their own ends and that it's not so much the paragraphs. People is that people corrupt power. Yeah he's to find out what people really want when they have more tools with which to get it. Yeah, that's exactly right and also one of the consistent finds its findings in psychology is that when you give people power, they become just inhibited because they think look I've. You know I've. I've gained now freedom to express who I am and what I want, I don't I don't have to put on an act anymore and so in Cairo after After doing his is deep biography of of Lyndon Johnson,
On my desk, I want to read that it's a great red, logarithm, major commitment, yeah yeah, you don't want to go into that lightly, but one of his observations was that the power never crops. It always reveals, I think that that is one of the things that I dont think one is true in the others not, but I think that's it for me a fundamental shift about power. Let's, let's give people a little bit of credit. I who had say look, you know it's possible that if you are a person of decent character and integrity that you know, power could bring out the better better angels of your nature is, as Lincoln put. It is one thing that against this be a bit of a caricature, but I feel, like I've discovered this in my in my wanderings among powerful people that such as power. Yes, it is might be a more relevant variable, but at a certain point in a person's career as a get more powerful and more famous, they seem to surround themselves with people who insulate them from the normal tests of truth and images either got
reality testing going on, and so you can meet people who you get the sense have never I heard a strong argument against their cherished ideas and if it can be a bit surprising just surrounded by yes, men and women, and they have been told their geniuses so often that it, I'm thinking of one case in particular, I won't name him, but it's just you get. There is a kind of delusion whether you ve been drinking your own publicity for long enough that you're out of touch with reality. I've seen it happen more times that I like to admit ends. He I think to me it. It suggests poor judgment on the part of a leader for him had he. You ought to know that one of the dangers of gaining power is that you I've, I'm sure you ve, heard leaders remark at some point in their career. I got so interesting as again status. I suddenly got funnier about Africa, and you have to see that going in. You know that your judgment of other people's character actually gets worse
as you become more powerful, because they are more motivated to impress you and to flatter you, and if you recognize that, then you set of systems to counteract that so yeah. I think of a state that a lot of meters make his. They gain power and they say I need a stiff work because I know my success depends on being able to multiply all my talents, and so I need a whole group of people around me who are going to extend my work, who are going to strengthen it. Who are going to reinforce it? I think what they overlook is they also need a challenge network, pregnant group of people who believe in their potential enough that they want a tear their work apart, to try to make it better and You know, it's awfully scary, when I I've seen a cover leaders who occasionally would walk into their their office and they say good morning, and you can almost hear the people wanting to say in response great point where I heard no hope too soon views in there wasn't
anything said yet and yeah I mean I think, that's that's. How most group think starts because it will get into given take because with almost landed on it already sunrise your your thesis there and and and the different personality types or would you call them personally types? Are they just it's it's. And he let you explain it, but the differences in people and their styles here are orthogonal too, like the big five per Allie traits right yeah, they seem to be. Yes, was talk about that. So does actually there's really interesting, so yeah, we think about the big four or five as the the major dimensions. A personality rights you know how extroverted verses introverted. Are you where you stand and emotional stability verses? How reactive argued, distressful events, how conscientious dependable are you how agreeable disagreeable? Are you willing to talk more about, but maybe my favorite big five trade and then how open verses traditional? Are you and you're thinking and who's been they receive? These traits exists in most cultures around the world. That leaves us
think they're, pretty fundamental right and there's even pretty good by genetic evidence that we can trace to hate. There's a herd ability coefficient that's attached to each of these, and you know this these traits they they exist in us they matter. There are hard to change, but we thought for a long time. There were just kind of five ripe, then most of the additional trade that were discovered we can kind of fit under the umbrella of an existing trade and recently there's than theirs going evidence it or maybe a six factor of personality which is selfishness and I've industrial exciting. For the past fifty years I ve been studying individual differences in your motivation, help others verses, advance your own interests as out. You know not surprising to me that that's emerging, but I don't think about these. His personality types in part because when I'm really interested in here is, is your values when you interact with another person, what are your goal,
and intentions, and I was struck by evidence from around the world. This has been shown in North America, South EAST Asia, Western Europe, but also in some pretty remote places like the African Messiah, that there are three fundamental styles of interaction that that you see emerge again and again And so on the extremes, I've I've come to call them, give us an takers. So the givers are the people. Always asking? What can I do for you takers the opposite right, it's all about. What can you do for me and most of us we know to be too selfish, or too generous- and so we need somebody- new reaches a third styles, our default, which is called matching right. If the matter I say: hey I'll, do something for you. If you do something for me- and I think of these styles red then than personality traits, because I think these are choices. We make every interaction so You know I might be a giver when I mentoring a junior person, I might be more of a
When I'm negotiating personality with my employer, where you know my goal, is generally not to make sure that they win that negotiation. And then it may be a matter if somebody who is maybe awry full of minor competitor asked me to share some information. Is a hey, wait, a minute quid pro quo and I think we also all have a dominant style and that's what they would have been finding and, in my studies over the years is that there's a way that we prefer to treat most of the people most of the time. We'll consequences. Yes, when reading the book, I'm sure this is the universal experience of people who read it, but the first thing the reader does is try to figure out which style here she owns and I'm sure, there's himself deception at play and in the conclusions we will draw their, but. Honestly, I think I tend to be a giver in most respects, but I'm a kind of battered giver and I'm a very busy giver right? I nursed. I noticed that a few things happy now one is. There are some salient
This is where I feel like I've been taken advantage of, and it's sort of mattered so I'm more on guard in certain situations. I view my past self as a naive giver ray I. So there is a kind of a mark and I have to some degree, outsourced my disagreeableness and my disposition not to give reflexively too. You know a man you're a lawyer in this is that a layer between me and reality and all the takers world and that it to some degree. Romania- will experience as it can be a kind of good cop, bad cop relationship where you get to maintain in your dominant style, because you have- asshole. Who is working for you right. I hope you're, not an oh by the way, I hope, they're just a matter. Who cares deeply in justice right trying to punish all the takers, okay yeah? Well, that is that is. That is, I think that is through the recipe, and I guess it was one of the peace right I know.
There's a nose, the liability of being together. At least this is what I imagined had happened. I met a guy who was offering his services to collaborate with me on on the meditation app that I I recently released, and he was Clearly, somebody who at to hear him describe himself but was a give her had been a huge giver but felt just mightily burned by his previous encounters with people where he had essentially been in for mental in building a billion dollar company and was uncompensated for its ways. I give up giving good ideas to people and wishes on remunerated apparently and so, but he soon, his now. His his style of approach to me was like out as an owl sketch in terms of its defensiveness Amelia, he basically black box? Every piece of advice he could have given me like there was nothing. Will you deliberately wooden add value to any thing in a conversation because he D, we wanted to. He wanted a monetize everything. The thing was so transactional that it was like a comedy sketch at
turn off the phone with this guy and it, and it was just it- would have been so exhausted figure out how to work with him and yet- can see. Having had a few collisions of the sort, I can see how people could get there where they were. You just feel like you're sort of open to the point where you're really bad match for people you happen to be around because you they just then they take everything that all the creditor, they take all the opportunities and then some bear trap shut within you and you have a different style there, and then, in that mode it seems clearly toxic and and on pragmatic yeah. I think here it's it's really interesting to ask the question: how do people become takers and yeah? I think some of that. Obviously, there their sociopaths affair, whom just don't care about other people, but having more commonly at least one. I've would have studied this. You, you do see that there's a whole subset of takers who have just been taken advantage of one too many times who use
the givers- and he had a kind of got burned and said, are it I gotta put myself first or else, nobody else well, and I think that this actually name for fur for that kind of van, almost over correction rang from you know somebody who is too self sacrificing to selfless too now being maybe too selfish, transactional. There's a psychologist, George Kelly, who called it slot rattling and it's that is the idea of ok, there's a there's, a particular trade You know I think, I'm on a bad spot along that spectrum, and I find that out and then all of a sudden I go to the opposite extreme. But then I found out ass a good either and I spent all his time trying to figure out. Ok, how do we get an optimal zone and colleagues observation? For us there is no optimal zone. What you need to do is add other traits too you're you're feel division, and so you no one would be flexibility to say. Ok, it's not inherently good to be a take her out, inherently good, to be a giver either. There are situations where each
the appropriate, and I need to be more you no more judicious about deciding which one is right in this world. I would say one of the mistakes that that we make that that I made in the early days of my research is, I thought we were dealing with one continuum where takers on one end were set. Fish givers on the other and were generous. But when I met heard independently. I surveyed thousands and thousands of people and an and gave him a series of questions about how motive if they were to help others and then how motivated they were to achieve their own goals and also then got their their colleagues to write them. So we had really nice three sixty data. I found that the itself concern and other concern were completely orthogonal. So how much you care about other people and how much you care about your yourself. Our uncoordinated and other then was or was recently Romagna. How is that possible? Given that in so many situations it is Europe some contest between the two? So I think that the key is that in a given situation right, you often will face a trade off.
But if you aggregated all the situations across your life, you can often find ways that that it's not zero sum right. This is why the reasons being alive relationships as opposed to transactions is oh, I can. I can help you and it feels like. Maybe it costs me something in this moment, but over time there's a chance that we both benefit from them. Ship year. Yes, oh yeah, I'd taken a narrow view that, as I have often said, there's a place where selflessness and selfishness why selfishness coincide. You? Could you realize you won't be surrounded by happy people? We want good relationships, love as one, your primary values and then all those rides with that tied. That's a goal and yeah it's it's upsetting. Cuz! It's been studied a lot of negotiations, so is a meta analysis. The Carson to drew lead of every study that ever been done of going into a negotiation. What are your motivations and then? How do you do relative to your counterpart
and the overall finding is that the best negotiators are high and concern for their themselves and high concern for other simultaneously and without and to do it is immediately figure out. Ok was the person across the table. For me need, and how do I help them get bad but then also Picture I get what I needed out of this interaction too, is very differently from pushing with someone end you What you want clearly at their expense, where they feel burned, you're sabotage in any future relationship. There done yeah it's over and there was a there's one of my favorite studies of negotiators actually measure their cognitive ability, so they took an iq test before negotiating and then the question was too smart and ago shatters do better, and the answer was no.
At the smarter. You were the better your counterparts in the negotiation, and some of that might be because more intelligent people are more likely to take the long view and say: look. I know you. I might critical lose this negotiating negotiation today, but that's not ultimately the only test of of whether we built a good relationship or whether there is a way we can help each other in the future, but also the smarter. You were the more people you were to identify ways of benefiting the other person that cos you nothing wrong, and I think this is one of the kind of basic mistakes people make as they think o every act of generosity has to be at a personal expense and no that's all tourism. I dont think anyone should be altruistic, cause it's out sustainable. I think what we should do is say: look, let's look for ways of helping others that don't require us to sacrifice our selves, and we can all do where you can sacrifice. One thing lets a time but to your mutual advantage ghetto, although there there's one case it did you write an option,
had about not responded. Email, I have a correct. I wrote it out about life. People should very responsive to reasonable email. You must have done some pain, for that I did so. Irish and it's out, and we hope that we can respond to be now so as though this were. I think I disagree, because its and now in a position, so I once woke up with fifty. Thousand unready, may I remind us right so I headed declare email bankruptcy, obviously under added and I still get alot of call emails and I actually don't feel I say you're argument just to state your case. What what what pointed you make him up at me, I don't think you have to answer called emails that Well, you don't know Now- and I read your bad- that that if someone is aunt, if someone is right, a reasonable called mail. It is, of necessity rude to not respond to a definite. I feel that way. Ok, I think I better
This is it. This is a whole different animal fur, public figures right or people who are visible to the point that you could even get. Fifty thousand emails right, I think, but made my general case is ed. Email has evolved to be as essential to communication as a face face interaction or phone call, and if somebody walked by you in the hallway and said hello, you in just snubbed them, you'd you to respond to them, and if somebody left your voice mail, you most people call them back, and I think some people have evolved. This idea that will email is different and if somebody writes me a message, I don't have to respond to it and if that's the norm in your workplace, fine, if that's Norman, your feel totally okay. The problem is that, because so much communication is being done on, email today is mostly taken as a sign of either that you're not conscientious
which of all the personalities in the big five as the best predictor of job performance, and so, if your judges, somebody was disorganized and unreliable, that's generally not good for your career right route and then also hits. It sends a signal that your care, rather than the person who took the time to write you just doesn't matter to you and neither those Ngos. You would want us anywhere them right. If, if you have a job, you have it not having a job. Yes, fifth, up into her pride protective role, I worked very hard, not have a job that serve to you, but I think you know. I think it is fine to to exercise judgment on any individual Imelda comes in. I think if, if somebody has a habit of just not responding they're taking a risk in you know in the digital age, and I think that that would it it is. You should have a hierarchy right of of okay, so in my world unresponsive to family, first student, second, colleagues, third, everyone else forth- and we know that that makes them it's really easy raided. The everyone else category is going to fall by the wayside. If I don't, you know, if haven't gotten through,
body to the other groups yeah that this opens. The larger topic of of saying no and the more, things are going well, the more you actually need to say no to treat I've, definitely the various opportunities and what I spent with emails that just it takes there's enough of it. If I were going to be scrupulous about saying no and the most conscientious way that baby, no time for anything else, and it just takes too long to say note some. Some of so that's so, He sent me an email. You did not get a reply that this explains what happened. Sobered ahead think about saying no and entry origin with Riyadh. So all the demands on your time. I think when I first got into this field, I thought I confused being a giveaway saying yes and the whole point of choosing a set of values. Where you say look, I want to be someone who contributes the lives of others, and I enjoy being helpful and am happy to do without strings attached. Is you get it
is where you ought to have your impacts, and so you should be a slave to other people's priorities right. At the same time, I am not of the belief that current you'd You a request, that's always request. That's always somebody else's priorities being dumped on you write about you, but my inbox is also the place where I get really helpful. Waste from my colleagues and I can immediately find the answer to some esoteric question where I'm looking for a data point about it, and so I feel, like you know, in a cosmic matching, sets right via your email than than problem, not gonna, end up getting very helpful responses, but I think it. The thing now is a critical scale. Fur but he who ought to be generous or anybody who once wants to get a lot done an
the way I've come to think about it is you oughta have set of priorities around who you help when you help and how Europe so the who is easy right. I give you my last of of students coming before colleagues, and that means that if I have a choice in a given day between a feller professor who wants my feedback on a paper and a student who is looking for certain careered vice, I'm you to choose the student, and that means uncomfortable with the student feeling I'm more generous than my colleague work as item become a professor to try to behold other professors. I think I'll be ok. Also, if somebody you know somebody has a history or reputation, selfish behaviour and yet a kind of proven themselves to be more of a take. Her I'd want you to shifting to matrimony. And say: look: I'm not gonna reward that behaviour, I'm not it reinforces I'd. I'm gonna die either, not help or I'm gonna, make sure that their pay it back or pay a forward and
the when it is basically about saying look, I've got a blackout time to get my own stuff done and too often there is. There is a temptation, I think, for a lot of people who like to be helpful to prioritize other people's needs ahead of their own and then their constantly falling behind on fishing there on work near and then how to me is the most fun is just to be clear and proactive about saying: look there certain ways of helping others that I enjoy and then I'm uniquely good at, and so I mean a focus on those in for me. That's I love sharing knowledge about work in psychology, my favorite called emails to get our. Have you ever seen? A study filled the blanks and among oh all, these hours that I way sweeping these completely trivial and tiny studies might come in handy for somebody else, and I really enjoy connecting people when its mutually beneficial. If there's there's a way that they can actually help each other- and I feel like I live in this world, where a bridge between lots of different fields- and so That'S- that's a fine and easy thing to do: you connect them. Do you send a call email connecting them as a fait accompli, or do you ask whether they want to be connected to depends on the people here? So I just I just thought
when yesterday actually not telegraphing too much. But you know what style I would prefer a fact of course, but so yes, I would say I generally for further double often every once in a while there's a person where I now look, they would be insane not to want to make a connection is so I will just make it. I've done that I always defaulted double opt in but few occasions where I haven't we have just thrown to people together. I have literally said that would be insane not to have one don't know each other about like those or is it a protector item example. This last year I was going to try to tape alive. Progress have said with Mountain Gladwell and were sitting in the green room beforehand is like we must emphasise my pod cast on now. Why should pull your gully and I really want to talk to some Harris, but I can't find any one who knows him am equate. I am sure you know lots of people who know him, but I just met SAM, let like I because a week after we met
and that I didn't ask you if you wanted to meet him, but I assume they can generally are very happy to tell you that harm. But I apologize although I landed in that connection, did me in the weirdest episode of a pot gas, because it was have you heard that one interview producers here interview me about home invasions, an echo my wife and I have had a two hour debate about so interesting I went out and I think that it is reasonable to to assume that if, if there's one person who can help the other, the receiver would be happy to receive. That connection wrote, to change topics here. What do we know about creativity at this point? I you know about how to thwart it. I think how to undermine it as parents and teachers. I think we know how to stifle it at work and I think most of what I know about how to unleashes basically getting the obstacle, out of the way. So you ass, I got kids adult spoke here, why bother and well what was focused on creative
but actually would like to know how you're, just Then psychology may or may not have affected your parenting because gosh Amazed at how little science seeps through, and ones daily life in, and this is not an I haven't focused on let psychology or any of this to the relevant fields, narrowly, but I just know from talking to people like Paul Bloomer age are people who are closer to those data It's amazing how little it it constrains or inspires are apparent in. I think they are where the most were a plausible things we do as a society is anyway, we don't educate parents in the most basic knowledge about developmental psychology, wrote a kind of one on that because, on the one hand, I've you know just as a casual consumer of that literature, not some, who's ever really contributed to it. I've learned a lot from it. On the other hand, I am never what is to be one of the psychological screwed up? Our kids, which I feel like is here now, is kind of the norm, but also I've. I've been pretty persuaded by the the wealth of evidence and behaviour
genetics that says a lot of what we think are parenting affects you'd Burnett, already our genes, your written and so at United, and that's why I say I think it's it's easy to to undermine a kid right. So you're not not being supportive, not it out, not showing unconditional love. You really easy to damage a child right. We we have decades of evidence on the you would know. This is a narrow scientists read on and how much harm you can do by depriving children by exposing them to chronic stress abuse, poverty, etc. But I think, if you take out all the bad things that happened, kids, I'm not sure how much upside there is around trying to be the world's best parent, regular trying to get a perfect as opposed to just saying luck wrong to make mistakes a matter how hard we try at it. But I guess there are a few things that I think we ought to be aware of his parents. I think the biggest thing I've learned is apparent actually is that a big part of being creative is is building resilience.
Because I think you are part of having ideas that are novel is it requires you to face rejection? It makes you feel, like you're alone, right as a non conformist, whose maybe not fitting in- and there is some evidence that had the most creative kid in a classroom is the least likely to be the teacher spent, because in a creative kids, are annoying. That's right. I know, even as a teacher of of of you know, college students, an MBA students that you are the ones who are widely creative, not quite sticking with the lesson plan and they often wanna take.
The conversation- and you know under attention than I worry, that the rest of the classes gonna miss out on the other that the key concepts we recover. So when I, when I think about all of that, I think that if you are going to be creative, one of the skills that you need early on is you need to be comfortable with disapproval session, and I think that one of the ways you, U Foster, that comfort is you, encourage kits, is to think for themselves and recognised that they don't always need the approval of a parental figure. In order to you know to feel ok and there are there.
Jesse ways to do this, but one one that have applied with our kids is. I read all this research showing that one of their beliefs, the kids, need in order to be resilient, as they need to feel that they matter and mattering in sociology has three components. One is that other people notice me too, as they care about me and three as they rely on me. Any most parents are pretty good at the first two, but we miss out on the third, which is a matter which I feel that other people are counting on me and I too many parents, like kids, be helpless right. There's all this discussion now about snowplow parenting, where we clear the path for kids, as opposed to preparing kids for the path wrote and so I thought, okay, we were supposed to show our kids that that we are willing to rely on them so well, he's I'll do is when I'm nervous, before a big speech, let's say actually go to our kids and ask them for advice on how to handle that Henderson added to Romania is or what ages there are eleven, eight and five so very young to imagine they could actually contribute here
well being- and I were you- I mean- I don't- have high hopes for a five year olds advice on another name, but no, no budgets that that the fact that you would can a model that letter reciprocity is interesting. Yeah I mean, I think, you're right. I don't want me to feel like you know, I'm not doing it right when I want to show them that I value their input, is a team effort yeah exactly and so that the great thing about that
is one. I forgot that I have confidence in their ability to think through. You know how do I, how to handle a stressful situation to I then get to watch them practice, their own problem solving, and so, instead of so a couple of the first time I did this. Actually I was before I get my first rocket TED and I talked to her our oldest and she gave me a bunch of pretty good tips, and you should think about what you know. Why you're excited to give this speech and who you have an audience that could help and then, a few weeks later, of course, she's in the school play and she's nervous and instead of me giving her advice, she gets to think for herself and know that she already has some ideas about how to handle that situation, and I did, I think we could. We could give kids those opportunities, and write it instead of telling them how to solve a problem. We oughta give them opportunities to think through the problem themselves and even show them that were willing to consider their advice here that this great warehouses unkind.
National love mesh with this concept of grit and we have been hearing about what is it, you think, is the actual Duckworth as clear a colleague of mine who put grid on the map in her research, and she has found the exact same thing for parenting that I found for work which, is there's other there's a two bites. You in there in their work were out. I've talked about this in terms of giving and taking, and then how agreeable and disagreeable people are which does a quick aside. I used to assume that being agreeable meant you are going to be a giver, because you know if you're, nice and friendly and warm you're gonna be helpful, but the data gathered suggested those are independent and that agreeableness is about on the surface,
how pleasant it interact with you, whereas giving and taking our are, what are the one of those real intentions deep down? And so, when you draw the two by two, I found that often the best leaders are the disagreeable givers coup dole out more tough love who challenge you, because they care about you and Angela has two by two. Apparently, it's almost identical, which is how supportive argue: that's your unconditional offender and then the other accesses how demanding art and that the goal is to be in high so and say. I am both supportive and demanding. Now to your point earlier about situations is really hard to be both in one sentence: Cricket Europe, but I think over time, grit comes from your kids feeling, like you believe, in their potential you care about them and their well being and success, but also you have really high expectations and standards for them, and I do think, though, that their things have to be at odds. I think I would like another axis there, which we can in three dimensions: Yahoo conflict with Albania, which is honesty.
Maybe maybe a collapse, is down to one of the other two about people, often think that, in order to truly be supportive there's some circumstances. We have to lie to people and you have to white lie in order to not give them a truth which they might find, disappoint her or dispiriting, but. I've been on this hobbyhorse for more than a decade now, and I find it and is this as is apparent as well: it's an immense reservoir of confidence in her. Personally, for the other person to know that you will never lied to them yet right, because there then, when you when you're praising them, they know you're, not bullshit and I'm gonna end I don't know, I think it is not something that is explicit and in many people's thinking here is like it like, if you're just trying to be supportive and demanding by turns to set it to say to take those two variables, it's easy to see how the law
level of honesty. Majors accidentally fall wherever it falls. That's one of the rules, since that I, like the disagreeable giver idea, the language at least better than demanding and supportive role, because I think a part of the heart of being disagreeable essaying? Look, I'm gonna tell you the truth that you need to hear. Even if you don't And yet, as somebody who, by personality, I e to pray. Tell I scheme much more in the agreeable direction and I What am I a Achilles heels? My career has been wanting to be liked. What things I've tried to learn over time is to say luck, yes, in the short run, if is more painful to either to tell people a hard truth than it is to tell them what seems like a kind lie, but in the long run that's not creating a foundation where people trust me the where I have integrity, and so I have an aspiration to be more disagreeable and sometimes have over corrected on that button. I think that yeah I mean there are? This is goes back to the idea that you want to challenge network not not just to support network right people who are willing to
your arguments apart, because they they think it's important for you to get right. Yeah issues, one more point on creativity that I think you made in one of your books has been made elsewhere too, but one of the false assumptions about creativity is that there's just at a higher quality of work coming out of creative people where it seems like it and correct me. If I, if the research hasn't back this up, but it seems this is in most cases is just up higher volume of work and ashes more at the far end of the distribution to choose from yet that the damage fighting in the creative creativity letter, is the more creative. You are the more bad ideas you have and that
because you generate more ideas and I think that it deems diamonds in his very prolific, psychologists who study this pretty extensively throughout history is deemed deem. It say that you want to think about. Creativity is fundamentally darwinian that you have what's essentially blind variation, that as a creator, you are too close to the idea and have too little access to. You know that the taste of your audience or the needs of your field, to really judge whether ideas or any good, and so you have to generate enough blind variation, that some of those ideas will be selectively retained. So you were to classical composers, for example, and there is good evidence that one of the distinguishing factors that made
The issue of embarking Mozart better than their peers is they generated often not just twice as much work but ten times as much work as most other composers. And what that means is there there mean composition is not considered greater. Then you know lesser musicians, but their peak is higher because they they had more shots at goal. Essential ere. You can also see this within people's careers, though so summoned to did analysis of Thomas Edison's innovations over time, and he found that the periods in which he generated the most patents were also the periods in which she had the best shot at at a truly influential patent and that during the same window, where he he kind of did the work sort of pay. Hearing the light bulb whether or not he actually invented it at all. He was also trying to create a fruit preservation technique that totally backfired, maybe even cause router to rot faster. Nature, he created them attacking for mining iron or that didn't work invented a doll so creepy that it scared dies, scared. Adult am kid.
So you think about it if they lie with the same inventor but Shakespeare same thing, you know same period. He was working on some of his greatest heads like because Macbeth it was was also the time when he wrote to moan of Athens, which nobody thought was any good. So I think tat I think, there's there's a rule that says yet to generate a sufficient quantity to assemble and some quality. Though there was an anecdote you tell in given taken, I hadn't heard. I was amazed. I hadn't heard it upon radiant, but this goes to the the consequences of being a taker or an apparent taker. Even in great success at just the story of Jonas Salk is and his press conference. Maybe you can tell that pigs. I genuinely hadn't, heard it and am amazed given how famous he was and how much he he appears to have contributed to our well being Esther submissive.
Mason story. I was shocked when I stumbled under the story. I had no idea because your socks, a hero, re on you when you think about givers his it would, I think, society right great people throughout the past century, even pretty close to the top of my list, and I actually started looking into him, because I was interested in writing a chapter about sharing credit, and I thought oh great scientist, who did so much good, is probably an exemplar, and when I went to look for stories when I write, I always start with science and then say. Let me find a good example to illustrate it, and so you know I had a bunch of studies about credit that I wanted to bring to life, and I went to suck- and I read this really surprising article by a historian said you know. Sulk was that was asked why hidden patent his vaccine Winnie in every first generated, and he said: well, you can't patent son, you wouldn't patent. Suddenly it's it's. You know it's a public good. It turns out if its alive, it turns out his vest,
wasn't patentable, and so he was trying to paint himself. Is this very altruistic guy, when in fact the due diligence has been done and a patent without obtainable, because I think the work was not sufficiently novel wrote so so that was the first layer? And then I thought? Okay, I ve got to learn more about. The sky is obviously more complicated figure than he seems to be an I read a whole book. Was a biography of it was a biography of polio really, but it was sort of biography of stock. In a way, and I learned a couple things- one was that he would always refuse press interviews, because you know he was too
and then he would allow himself to be cajoled into saying yes and then I'm doing all this important work, but I would be ok. This is, if you really need me, I can talk to you again trying to paint this picture of himself is as somebody who had these very noble ideals and then the kicker was he had a core lab of people who really did essential work without them. There would be, I think, no sock vaccine and he's not them. He refused to give them credit for the work they did when they made the big announcement they finally have. The vaccine available, he didn't mention any other names and basically fractured is relationship with all these people were left in tears from the press conference programme actually crying, and these were people who toiled away trying to work on a problem that was so critical to humanity and just wanted their boss to say their name? A wouldn't. Do
and it was apparently really important him that he was the the sole inventor and arrogant, not even an invention per se, but Is this whole debate about whether he then was black borrowed from the National Academy of Sciences? Because of that or because his work was to applied and people didn't see, it is as making a basic contribution and knowledge. But I think that we see this a lot. I think there are a lot of people who work very hard to craft images as givers and if you look at the way that they they dole out, blame and take credit, it doesn't really follow the value system that that you would hope for or I will another lateral move to the topic of meditation which shone out. I warned you about so you wrote in a bed in the New York Times, which was widely considered a broadside against the the scientific consensus or at work is there no is viewed or the rumours thereof about their utility? mindfulness? I don't that's true noticing that you say He also white. Why do you think I was pursued that way? There was a mindset
Where are they? I don't other I could into the weeds of that is just is more and they will inform his home The more that I heard you do a package with my friend Dan Harris who who's got the ten percent happier podcast and meditation out by that name and Damn Dan is aid is just a hard core evangelist for meditation now cause he's he's found it so use one. His life she had a conversation there, where your your basic scepticism about the whole project, whether there's a there there came out, It was in Europe as well mere I basically the United agree here- that the science in support of the benefits of meditation is thinner than many people. Would it knowledge were never line on it. Right is being hyped yet having any. May serious scientists will tell you that I guess that the better way
That is, if there's a range of an equality of science attesting to the benefits of meditation, and some of it is obviously thin. Some of it's obviously interesting, but all of its preliminary right, and so it's not a matter put Richard Davidson in on the side of obviously interesting, but still preliminary yeah, but so to come. In tat the ground floor here, I think you were talking about with Dan having met so many people who were whose lives have they think they imagined had been changed by the blacks, meditation de the evangelism was starting to be the wrong way such that you, you were in your ear. Look at that at the data coupled to the personal enthusiasms of annoying people cause You say all right enough is enough. What are you know, I'm not interested in this or how it is when you record this discrimination within my little that, a year ago, in the fall, I had actually so yeah
Gimme, your hot taken, meditation and then and then I will try to perform an exorcism money. Well, I uh fairly. I'm a nurse possessed has interfered with you here who possessed by doubt. I figured lobby possessing down. Your were often isn't, isn't that preset of science up to a point, even without having an experience, and I think there are things that you could understand conceptually. That would make it seem obviously of greater interest the weather knotty it was. It was something you want to act on? Why? What will get there? I want to get your up to the minute taken out to say a few things that debt and didn't say in his and his exchange with you. I believe that I think I think it could be more interesting to me than I let up. I think I just I have I've unnatural scepticism of anything that has evangelism behind it and I think my responsibility as a social Sciences is to look at the evidence and ass.
In a balanced way. What do we really now and I actually started reading mindfulness research in nineteen? Ninety nine, before the you know the make model year on this ruin it had a cough, and one of the first observations that I thought was interesting as you can become mindful without meditating, you can at least create a state of mind for this by teaching people to say conditionals, rather not rather than absolutes, and you could also get there by by teaching people to just noticed the things in their environment right. So I felt like my my earliest as we oughta to decouple meditation from mindfulness, because there are many ways of cultivating and focusing attention on the present. There are many ways of learning to be non. Judgmental and meditation might be one path, but like any complex system, this governed by equip analogy right there,
to rouse the same end, maybe they're. Otherwise you can get there too. So that's kind of where I came in and then it's always people started angrily everyday. I fella goes. I was getting judge we so we're gonna meditation. Do you do I don't know? Why I'm sorry? What are you eat? How could you not what's wrong with you, and you know that can only happen so many times we think like her. I didn't even know that that was a virtue at its head. I just thought it was a practice that some people like in the same way that you know some people prefer to go running and others prefer to play basketball read. I guess what I think was starting to happen for people's there's, his expectation that it's been if it had been so obviously demonstrated. That is, it is analogous to physical exercise. Yet, whereas, like what am, I you know, exercise you don't run you don't like it and yet if ways that begins to seem pathological and
and I would imagine the circles in which you run yet. If you're going to, we know conferences like TAT or we are wherever you are surrounded by people who would assume that it's the benefits are so clear, cut that yeah you're taken some kind of stand for not being interested to know, which obviously does not by its hat. I didn't, I think it's never. I mean I've. I've tried it. Were played not been taught a way to do it that worked for me in and never never felt something. That was that I wanted to make time for an all the night. My big beef was that, aside from the fact that I think you know the claims for
outstrip the science. You know how many randomized controlled trials. Do we really have looking at isolating meditation from all of the different components of activity that you might be able to get without meditating, and then how objective are the outcomes and how? How consistently did they work is ineffective for mostly people, mostly situations, vinegar, alot, of open questions there you nobody ETA, I don't. I don't disbelieve that I think is probably hopeful for most people in most situations if the goal is to reduce stress or to cultivate mindfulness. I just add further to that. I said ok, but we see the same EC effects on stress reduction of exercise. We see very similar effects, unmindfulness of some of these other activities that I mentioned, and so my feeling had been. I like to use my time productively, I'm not someone whose good at court unquote doing nothing and I rise in meditation
doing nothing, but when compared to reading where I feel like, I get some of the same benefits, I'd rather eat when compared to exercise I'd rather spend you know an extra ten minutes or one hour a day, doing more exercise than I would meditating and by the way I can enacting thinkin reflects. While I do that- and so I was just reacting to the that- the force that the feeling of being forced to do this one activity that I think the sign suggests is probably helpful, but I don't, I don't feel like a need it, and the funny part to me was when I would ask people why. Why are you so why you sue evangelist sick about it and that their common answer was? Will it helps me quiet my monkey mind
and all the chatter I never heard voices in my head. I don't know what a monkey mind is if you'd like to continue listening to this podcast you'll need to subscribe, it Samharris, DOT, org you'll, get access to all full length, episodes of making sense, podcast and other subscriber only content, including bonus episodes. Stations I've been having a waking up that and making sense podcast ad free and religion, entirely. Unless, with your support and even subscribe, now fanfares, that work
Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.