SAY THE RIGHT THING

HOW TO TALK ABOUT IDENTITY, DIVERSITY, AND JUSTICE

A sensitive and sensible handbook for encouraging positive conversations about identity.

How to communicate better about our personal and collective differences.

Yoshino and Glasgow, who founded the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at the NYU School of Law, offer assistance on how to talk about the “social identities” we all demonstrate. “We are both gay men who spent our formative years in the closet,” they write. “During that time, we were desperate to talk about our own identities, but the words felt unspeakable, even to the people who mattered most in our lives. That suffocating silence led us to search for a more powerful way of communicating.” Their guiding assumption is that such conversations intimidate many people and that confusion about how to “say the right thing” has become an obstacle to empathy and mutual understanding. The authors skillfully explore seven key areas: how to avoid so-called “conversational traps,” build resilience in dealing with differing points of view, cultivate curiosity about how others perceive the world, disagree respectfully when necessary, apologize authentically when wrongs are committed, apply the platinum rule (help others as they would prefer to be helped), and be generous to those who act in noninclusive ways. The authors’ advice has been extensively field-tested, and they are admirably nuanced in their identification of specific challenges to the promotion of constructive dialogue. Particularly effective are the discussions of how privilege can operate along different dimensions, how particular verbal strategies can diffuse tension and build trust, and how wariness about others’ judgements can be mitigated. The highlight of the book, however, is the chapter on apologies, which offers vivid illustrations of those that did not work (usually because they deflected responsibility and sometimes even compounded an original insult) and those that did (by opening collaborative possibilities for addressing harm and combatting ignorance). The authors successfully set forth a clear sense of how one might balance accountability for wrongs with compassion for those who have erred.

A sensitive and sensible handbook for encouraging positive conversations about identity.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181383

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

MAGIC WORDS

WHAT TO SAY TO GET YOUR WAY

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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