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  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

The Book of Beautiful Questions Summary

Updated: Jan 8, 2022


Mental Models from the book:

'The Book of Beautiful Questions' can be summarised into 8 mental models:

1. Commitment & Consistency Bias

  • Jeff Bezos says 'if you have a conviction....even if there is no consensus say: "Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? [can we disagree and commit?]

2. Emotions: Fear

  • We are happier when we make bolder choices. Steven Levitt conducted a study using people who were in the process of making a difficult decision. These people agreed to use a coin flip to decide if they would go ahead with their decision, if it landed heads they would say "yes". 6 months later he found that the "yes/heads" people were significantly happier than the "no/tails" people. When left to our devices we are too risk-averse and say no too often.

  • To overcome our risk aversion tendency: (instead of using a coin) use a weighted question: If I am usually better off saying yes to bold opportunities, why wouldn't I say yes to this one?

3. First Conclusion Bias

  • Scientific studies do not support the idea of following your gut instincts. You will be wrong more than you are right.

  • Asking: "And what else?"... encourages people to think more and go beyond the obvious answers and conclusions.

4. Language Instinct

  • To become a better listener ask:

    1. "Just to make sure I am understanding, are you saying...."

    2. "Can I try and explain what I think your position is- and then you can do the same for me? Because until we can accurately present one another's arguments, we do not know what the other is saying"

    3. Repeat back a few words that the person has said in the form of a question.

5. Liking

  • If you ask more questions you become more likable.

6. Narrative Instinct

  • The Journalist Mindset - Before going to a gathering tell yourself: I am going to go to this event as a journalist, looking for stories about the people I meet.

  • We are too short-termist in our thinking. To overcome this ask yourself: Which decision will make for a better story in 5 years?

7. Newton's 3rd Law: Action & Reaction

  • Ask Don't Sell - People put up their defenses when they think you are trying to sell them something. When you ask questions you build a relationship.

8. Tendency to Minimize Energy Output

  • Daniel Kahneman found that "people who face a difficult question, often answer an easier one instead."


Mental Model Mind Maps:

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