Thick Slice, Or Thin?

Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink" is a fascinating read. The subtitle "The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" gives some clue to its thesis. It's a book that Gladwell describes as being about 'the thoughts and decisions that bubble up from our unconscious.'

What we might term intuition, Gladwell refers to as 'thin-slicing'. "Thin-slicing", he writes, "refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behaviour based on very narrow slices of experience."

He goes on to cite psychologist John Gottman who can predict whether couples will still be married, 15 years down the line, with 90% accuracy, after 15 minutes' observation.

Gladwell says: "Thin-slicing is part of what makes the unconscious so dazzling. But it's also what we find most problematic about rapid cognition. How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgement in such a short time? The answer is that when our unconscious engages in thin-slicing, what we are doing is an automated, accelerated unconscious version of what Gottman does.'

Our unconscious is generally right. Of course, many of us are reluctant to trust the accuracy of that thin slice. (Many women get a negative 'thin-slice' message first off from partners who prove to be abusive but, for whatever reason, they override it.)

They then move into 'thick-slice' technology. Their partner repeatedly behaves deplorably towards them, and quite possibly towards their parents, friends and children also. But still they focus on what's good about their partner, and salvageable about the relationship.

How thick does the slice have to be before finally they get it?

If you've been an unwitting 'thick-slicer' - and I certainly was - you now have acquired a valuable tool for your armoury.

How thick do you need the slice to be? More, doesn't mean different, it just means more.

Change is something that you can only effect for yourself, within yourself. As regards relationships, the formidable John Gottman is quite clear. He says:

"People are in one of two states in a relationship? The first is what I call positive sentiment override, where positive emotion overrides irritability?Or they can be in negative sentiment override, so that even a relatively neutral thing that a partner says gets perceived as negative. In the negative sentiment override state, people draw lasting conclusions about each other. [My italics]

"Once they start going down, towards negative emotion, ninety-four percent will continue going down. They start on a bad course and they can't correct it."

Knowing what you know now, are you a thick-slice or a thin-slice person?

(C) 2005 Annie Kaszina

Joyful Coaching

An NLP Practitioner and Women's Empowerment Coach, Annie specialises in helping women heal the trauma of the past, so they can enjoy the present and look forward to the future.

Email:[email protected] To subscribe to Annie's twice monthly ezine, or order her eBook 'The Woman You Want To Be, go: to

In The News:

Relationships Where More Means Less  The Wall Street Journal

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