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Book Review: Mindwise

By Paul Glynn, Director of Sandler Sales Training (West M25). 

My own book club recently met to discuss Mindwise: How we Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel and Want by Nicholas Epley. We had a great discussion, using the starter question template from My Business Book Club, with some of the most prominent points being as follows:

What we didn’t like

It is not easy reading. There is no gentle ebb and flow, just the constant march of a slightly more scientific book than we are used to.

Moreover the message of the book was obvious fairly early on – that you cannot know what others are thinking. The ostensible promise that we can develop our “sixth sense” was not fulfilled. If anything, the concept that it is possible at all was exploded.

There also appeared to be some minor historic inaccuracies which seem to have already been jumped on by reviews in the media.

What we liked

What we liked was the theory that we have strong reasons to suppose that all our attempts to “mindread” anybody, including ourselves, are doomed to fail. All our body language-watching, stereotyping and empathising will only get us slightly closer to the truth. A person’s tonality is most likely to give us an insight into what is really going on, but even our evidence-based guesses can only remain just that – guesses. Even when they are about our own future actions or current motivations.

If we want to fully understand a persons motivations, that leaves just one option – we have to ask questions. The “Talking Stick” exercise is a useful tool for this. To do this, Person A speaks, hands the stick to Person B who has to explain what they heard Person A say to Person A’s satisfaction before they, Person B, can add anything.

What we took away

The main lesson we learnt is that we can only understand another’s motivations – professional and business – if we ask and the other replies in a relatively honest manner. Simple as that.

This is a very powerful message for business relationships, and indeed all of our relationships. Just understanding this one thing could make a huge difference between a successful or an unsuccessful encounter.

About Paul:

Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching

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