This book came out a while ago, but I finally got around to reading it. It was a very quick and easy read. It is mostly a bunch of anecdotes backed with a few studies here and there to make their points. Here are the key ideas I derived from the book.

  • Emotion and facial expressions are connected — You cannot experience an emotion without it (at least temporarily) being express on your face. Conversely, forcing your face into certain expressions will induce the associated emotions. So smile and you will feel better :-).
  • The existence and level of contempt in a relationship is the key to whether it will fail. Relationships where one partner expresses significant contempt towards the other will almost never last. If the observer can choose the subject of conversation, through only observing 30 minutes of conversation the observer can have a remarkably accurate picture of whether the relationship will last (basically tracking how much contempt is displayed in the conversation).
  • Being faced with contempt causes significant stress.
  • When make a decision using your gut don’t try to explain the decision. If you try to explain your gut feeling it will only interfere with it and cause confusion and reduce your gut’s accuracy.
  • You can learn more about someone by examining their environment than by talking with them or spending time with them (it avoids the prejudice from extra information).
  • Too much information can hinder decision making. This is a classic.  If you for someone to take action, don’t give them too much information or too many choices, just the critical facts and decisions they need to make.
  • Most decision making is not logic based. I think we all see this
    every day.
  • Each sense affects the others. We are familiar with how smell can affect taste, but even sight can affect taste. For example, they discovered the packaging of food can effect which one people think tastes better (i.e., they will answer differently when packaging is not included than when it is included).
  • Successful salespeople avoid judging people and treat all prospects equally. While we are all quick to judge people, the most successful salespeople people have learned to put their instant judgment on the back burner and give each prospect the royal treatment as if they were going to be their best client.
  • What you encounter/think about before a task can have huge impacts on your performance (positive or negative). This is just one of the reasons that affirmations can be helpful.

If you want a more in depth review, here is one from the New York Times.