>> Rethinking how we think, this week on "Firing Line."
>> Being original is not easy, but I have no doubt about this.
It's the best way to improve the world around us.
>> He's a best-selling author and organizational psychologist whose big ideas reach millions.
Adam Grant is an expert on how we think and why.
>> How do the motives that we bring to our interactions with other people shape the results we achieve?
>> A Wharton professor who's advised Fortune 500 companies... >> Sheryl Sandberg.
>> Adam Grant.
>> ...sports teams, the Pentagon, and royalty.
>> Your body can't function without your mind.
>> His mantra -- we all need to open up our minds and allow ourselves to rethink our core beliefs -- about business, politics, even life itself.
As the world changes faster than ever before, and our political culture too often emphasizes digging in over seeking common ground... >> Jesus loves you!
>> My body, my choice!
>> ...what does Adam Grant say now?
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible in part by... And by... Corporate funding is provided by... >> Adam Grant, welcome to "Firing Line."
>> Delighted to be here.
>> You wrote the most-read article on The New York Times' website in 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the title, "There's a Name for That Blah You're Feeling.
It's Called Languishing."
You argued that Americans were collectively feeling a sense of languishing, and that sensation of stagnation and emptiness could be helped by just naming it.
Now that we're in July of 2022, the pandemic is ongoing, inflation is high, gas prices are high, political polarization continues.
Are Americans still languishing?
Or would you call it something else?
>> Oh, that's an interesting question.
I think -- I think a lot of people are still languishing, in part because of the circumstances you're describing, but also in part because languishing is a feature of the human condition.
We used to call it ennui -- that sense of aimlessness and joylessness, where you feel like the world around you is stagnating and you're not able to make any progress.
And I think a lot of people are feeling that right now.
I don't think it's quite as severe now, from the data that I've seen.
We're starting to see a little bit of the tip, from my perspective, of what's called post-traumatic growth, which is the idea of not just bouncing back but bouncing forward, where people say, "I wish that hadn't happened, but because I'm stuck with it, I'm going to walk away stronger, I'm going to be more grateful, I'm going to have deeper relationships with people, and I'm going to have a new sense of possibility and purpose.
>> You've talked about the importance of flow and that when you're in flow, you are entirely consumed in a single activity and that can help one break free of languishing.
You did this during the pandemic by playing the video game "Mario Kart" with your family that was dispersed across the country.
How are you finding your flow now?
>> Well, "Mario Kart" is alive and well.
We actually just played.
>> Do you do it as much as you did during the pandemic?
>> Not quite, but I think that some people took that too literally, right?
So, I talked about -- >> You weren't advocating video games as -- >> "Mario Kart" is the cure for languishing, right?
The question is, what's your version of "Mario Kart"?
And what I love about "Mario Kart" is, it gives me a sense of mastery.
There is nothing like the joy that I get out of, you know, placing a banana peel so that my brother-in-law will slip on it.
It forces me to be mindful.
And the weird thing was, it also felt like I mattered, because during the pandemic, my kids were sort of looking for something to do.
And I felt like I was able to create something that energized them and excited them.
>> You describe moments that you refer to as collective effervescence.
Perhaps you achieved that with your family in playing "Mario Kart."
But you also talk about how most of us lost a sense of collective effervescence during the pandemic.
Now, as we look back, you know, we don't know how COVID, and long COVID in particular, is going to affect the human body.
But what about how COVID in particular will affect the human psyche?
Will we bounce back, or will this sort of linger in the way long COVID does to the body?
>> Well, I think it's a really important question, and the data on this are surprising to a lot of people.
So, not only will we bounce back, many people have already bounced back.
If you look at the mental-health trends during the pandemic, by the summer of 2020, there was actually a substantial rebound.
And I think that maybe the untold story of the last year is people got more generous.
Rates of volunteering, helping strangers, and giving to charity all went up.
And that is the default in all kinds of disaster and tragedy.
The news likes to amplify the horror and the pain, but the reality is that what most people do is they reach out in times of need.
And I think that's a hopeful story about the human condition -- right?
-- that when people are depending on you, you often find strength you didn't know you had.
And that's something we need to write about.
That's something we need to mark, because otherwise we don't notice that it's happening.
>> As an organizational psychologist, you've consulted for some of the world's top companies -- Google -- some of the world's top institutions -- NASA.
And I've heard you say that hybrid work is the global experiment of 2022.
>> Well, I think hybrid is the future and maybe even the present, too.
We saw many companies commit to return-to-office plans and then abandon them because people didn't want to do it but also because the evidence is strong that as long as people are in the office together about half the week, on average, if you let them work from anywhere the rest of the week, they are more productive, more satisfied, more likely to stay, no cost to their promotion opportunities, their collaboration, or their relationships.
And I think a lot of leaders have been dragged kicking and screaming into this, saying, "But how do I micromanage you if I'm not sitting next to you?"
And forgetting that, in fact, if they want to earn trust, the best way to do that is to show trust.
If you give people a little bit of freedom and flexibility, they reciprocate that with loyalty and commitment.
There are challenges with hybrid work.
It's harder, for example, to do informal learning and mentoring when we we don't walk out of a meeting and debrief it.
The meeting just ends, and we disappear if we're in a Zoom call.
It's a little bit harder to feel a sense of culture when you're not in the same room with people.
But that doesn't mean we need to be sitting next to each other every day of the week.
>> Last year in the United States, 47 million people quit their jobs.
This is referred to as the Great Resignation.
With the economy now approaching a slowdown, established companies and startups making cuts in the workforce, the so-called Great Resignation may be over.
But have the fundamental issues that caused so many employees to quit been resolved?
>> I know of four factors that seem to be driving those decisions to walk away.
One is being underpaid and finally throwing your hands up and saying, "I can't take it anymore."
Two is probably a taste of freedom, that people got a sense of flexibility when they didn't have a boss breathing down their neck anymore, and they wanted more of it.
Then a third factor seems to be burnout, that, you know, a lot of people were just exhausted.
And then, four, what's causing that burnout more than anything else, it seems to be toxic culture.
There was a great study published earlier this year looking at the drivers of turnover.
Toxic culture was 10 times more important than anything else in predicting whether people were going to leave or stay in their jobs.
And I don't think those factors are changing -- right?
-- as we move into an economic slowdown.
We still see people underpaid.
We still see people wanting more flexibility.
We still see people burning out.
And toxic cultures are sadly alive and well.
And I think people are going to keep jumping ship until we really rethink what it means to be a workplace and try to build a real community where people can do meaningful work and feel trusted and respected by the people around them.
>> You know, it reminds me of the work-life balance research you've conducted.
Has the pandemic changed Americans' priorities, in terms of how much of themselves they're willing to dedicate to a job?
>> I would love to see better data on this.
It's such a good question.
I think, anecdotally, from what I've seen, more people have walked home from work one day, by which I mean, you know, walk from their home office to their kitchen, which might be the same place, and said, "I don't want my life to be defined by work.
Why do I arrange my whole life around work?
What if I could figure out what my life priorities are and then fit my job into that?"
And I think there's been a -- there's been a really interesting anti-ambition movement -- right?
-- during the pandemic.
>> Tell me more.
>> I've seen a growing number of our students at Wharton, I've also just heard from a number of -- I guess a growing number of my "WorkLife" podcast listeners saying, "Why do we have to worship at the altar of hustle?
Why do we pray to a high priest of grit?
Shouldn't we think about what matters to us in life and then try to figure out, 'Okay.
Well, how can my work support that?'"
And I've also seen a lot of leaders and managers sort of wake up and realize, "You know what?
If people don't have quality of life, I'm not going to get quality work."
And if there is a silver lining of COVID for our jobs, it's that, for the first time in my two decades as an organizational psychologist, we have many leaders and managers realizing that mental health is part of health.
I love an example of a manager who said to a team, "Look, it's okay to call in sick.
It's also okay to call in sad."
And, Margaret, what I loved about that was not the idea that, "Now we're going to give you five sad days a year, and if you don't use them by December, we're gonna take them away," right?
It was the idea of normalizing the fact that it's okay to take some time to try to recharge.
>> Gwyneth Paltrow, JJ Abrams, former "Firing Line" guest Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg have all come to you for advice.
Even Prince Harry, you told him, "I cannot overstate the importance of a leader and a manager saying, 'I care more about your well-being than I do about your results.'"
So you're saying caring about employees is good for the bottom line.
>> In the long run.
Yeah, I think a lot of leaders see it as a cost, right?
Or as a distraction.
In the short term, maybe it is.
In the long run, people generally will not care about your mission unless you care about them, full stop.
>> Is that generational?
Because these are not characteristics that define Gen X or the baby boomer generation.
So how much of this is generational and how much of this is the new normal based on the circumstances created by a new economy and COVID?
>> I'm pretty skeptical of claims that generations differ in their fundamental values.
I think that human values are part of our psyche, and they don't seem to just radically shift from one generation to the next.
There was -- there's actually -- I think a lot of the claims that we make about generational differences are stereotypes.
They're generalizations about an entire group of people that happen to be born in the same roughly 20-year window and assuming they have a bunch of common characteristics.
>> So then what changes?
Cultural values change?
>> Well, I think what changes is people's expectations and the way that they express their values.
And so I think that we should be really careful when we assume that this premium on caring about people is a millennial goal.
I think what's changed is that millennials are more self-expressive than other generations, right?
>> That's for sure.
>> So they're a lot more likely to tell you.
And they also have the communication tools to make it very, very apparent when they are not getting what they want.
And that's true of Gen Z, as well.
And so I don't think it's a generational shift so much as I think it's a -- it's a set of expectations that have changed and a set of tools and technologies that have made it possible to voice those expectations and actually get heard.
>> Your best seller from 2021, "Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know," helps make the case to readers that the ability to rethink one's own opinions and assumptions is a critical characteristic for success.
One of the places where this is most difficult and least acceptable is in our politics.
I want to give you an example.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, came to Congress in 2011, completely opposed any kind of gun reform or gun reform legislation.
He still calls himself a defender of the Second Amendment, but just last month, he signed on to the first bipartisan federal gun legislation in 30 -- almost 30 years.
He re-evaluated his thinking after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
And you and I both know that it is almost impossible for elected officials to change their mind without being called flip-floppers or without really being attacked for being seen as weak.
>> How can we make it more politically tenable for political leaders to re-examine their thinking in the face of new evidence and circumstances?
>> That is such an important question.
It might be the defining question of our time.
And I think the starting point for me is to recognize that changing your mind doesn't necessarily make you a hypocrite.
It might mean that you've learned something.
And the question is, why are you changing your mind?
It's not whether you've changed your mind, right?
If you're changing your mind because you're trying to cater to your constituents, then I think it's reasonable to ask, "Is this person flip-flopping?
Do they have real integrity?"
>> Flip-flopping is an opportunistic change of mind.
>> Yeah, exactly.
Where you're basically abandoning your principles, and now I have questions about your moral character.
But learning is when you change your mind because you encounter better logic or stronger evidence.
And if you don't change your mind in the face of new facts, then you are basically closing the door to evolving.
And last time I checked, learning is not about affirming what you already believe.
It's about evolving what you believe.
This is what I would ask -- This is exactly what I would ask politicians to do is, I would ask them, "What are your current principles, and what are the conditions that would change your mind?"
And if they pre-commit to the evidence and the information that would lead them to shift, then all of a sudden, when they evolve according to that information, when the world changes, they change with it, now I know they're learning and they're not being hypocrites, and I don't think we spend enough time asking politicians to explain, "Okay, look, I know you're a supporter of the Second Amendment, and I know right now what that means is you're trying to protect the right to bear arms in a variety of ways.
What kinds of events in America would have to happen to lead you to wonder if we're taking that freedom too far and if there aren't ways to give people that freedom and still protect them from mass shootings?"
Maybe we could even fulfill both of those values at the same time.
>> I mean, as you know, there are many people in our politics who would pridefully say, "There are no circumstances or conditions under which my mind would be changed," and they would be rewarded by their voters for taking that position.
>> Do you really think that?
>> In the base of the Republican Party?
>> I'm not so sure.
>> Tell me why.
>> Well, I think that there's -- First of all, there's a risk that some of these candidates end up looking completely stubborn and inflexible.
And nobody wants to be led by a politician who refuses to ever learn.
Now, the question is, are there some single-issue voters or maybe sacred issues where people are okay with that?
So maybe we don't start on guns.
So then let's take this approach to my skepticism, because, as you know, many Republicans still believe that Donald Trump won the election, and they believe in Donald Trump's election lie, that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.
If you are face-to-face with an election denier, how would you make a persuasive argument?
>> This is really hard.
I don't know if you can make a persuasive argument.
>> Because there are some people who simply won't engage with the possibility that they're wrong.
So the first thing I would do is, I would get out of preacher and prosecutor mode.
"I'm right, you're wrong."
The harder I work to proselytize my views and attack yours, the more likely you are to disengage altogether.
Or when I show up in prosecutor mode, you bring your defense attorney to court and then neither of us is willing to budge.
What I would do is I would sit down with that person and say, "It sounds like you are really convinced that Donald Trump won the election.
What evidence would change your mind on that?"
And if you say, "Nothing," which I've had happen, I say, "Okay.
I just wanted to be clear -- this is a religion for you.
This is an article of faith that you take as seriously as your faith in God.
No matter who you spoke to or what information you saw, you're not going to budge."
And most of the time, people backpedal when I say that, and they say, "Well, no, of course, if I were to see the following, I would reconsider."
And that's -- that's then, you know, a little bit of a foot in the door, right?
You're not necessarily gonna change their mind in that conversation, but changing people's deep-seated beliefs, especially when they're consistent with their hopes and dreams, is not an overnight project.
It's almost a lifetime commitment.
And so what I want to do is, I actually don't want to make an argument in that conversation.
I just want to get them to reflect on if there's anything that would change their mind.
And guess what -- now they're in the driver's seat.
They feel a sense of ownership over their own beliefs.
They're not under threat.
They don't have to put up a shield.
>> Most folks that you talk to will cite the things that they've seen in the media because they trust their trusted media and media sources.
>> And that's the kicker here, right?
When people believe things that aren't true, when they're drawn to conspiracy theories, the problem is not one of information, it's one of trust.
They are, generally speaking, if you look at what draws people to conspiracy theories, they are looking to feel -- generally speaking, people want to feel like they have unique knowledge.
They want to feel that they're in control in a world that feels out of control.
And so it's much more comforting to believe that there are a few powerful people that are orchestrating the system for their own gain than to believe, "You know what?
Like, sometimes the world is unfair, and I'm the victim of that."
>> You write about binary bias and the human tendency to seek clarity by simplifying every issue into two categories.
So adding complexity and nuance is actually a way out of our hyper-polarization.
Binary bias is all around us, and the more charged an issue is, the more likely we are to take a complex spectrum of issues and beliefs and oversimplify it by dumbing it down into only two categories.
I love Robert Benchley's take on this when he wrote that "There are only two kinds of people in the world -- those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don't," right?
And too many of us are in that first camp.
>> But take a hot-button issue that's relevant in this moment.
So Tim Kundro and I ran a series of experiments where we started with the premise that what you're encouraged to do -- everyone did this after Donald Trump was elected -- you know, listen to the other side, take their perspective.
And guess what.
On charged issues, when somebody is on the other side of a spectrum from you, the more you try to take your perspective, the less likely you are to see their perspective, because you're just guessing, and you do not want to see the good in them.
So how do we get people to realize that?
One of the ways we get to that is, we said, "Can you reflect on your life having followed a different trajectory?
Imagine you were born in a family that had the opposite views on abortion.
If you're a liberal, imagine you were born in a religious family.
If you're conservative, imagine you were born on one of the coasts to a bunch of atheists."
We asked people to do that for just a couple minutes and then engage with somebody from the opposite side, and their approach is radically different.
They go from complaining about baby killers and women oppressors to saying, "I don't agree with your stance on the policy, but I respect the fact that you have a worthy principle behind it," which is either, you know, freedom or dignity of life.
And I think that this idea of counterfactual thinking, imagine that I was born in a different world or to a different family or in a different time.
What it forces you to do is realize that my beliefs are not set in stone, that it's possible I could have a different stance on this issue if I had experienced a different set of life events.
And guess what -- now I realize it's possible you could have gone through that, too, and that makes me more open to rethinking my views and also maybe puts you in a position where you're more open to rethinking yours.
>> This program, "Firing Line," is a revival of the original "Firing Line," which was hosted for 33 years by William F. Buckley Jr. One of the hallmarks of his program is that Buckley welcomed all points of view from across the political spectrum and engaged with friends from the opposite perspective.
One of those friends was Al Lowenstein, who was a Democrat who was admired by both liberals and conservatives and was a guest of Buckley's on this program many times.
I want you to listen to this excerpt from that program in 1971.
>> First, I'll answer what I was trying to answer before you tried to get me to answer the thing I'm not trying to answer.
Then I'll answer your second -- >> Which you will not answer.
>> Well, I'll answer both in due course.
What my feelings are, and I think you would agree with this, is that people, regardless of party labels, ought to work together on issues they agree about.
I don't think that my agreeing with you about the draft means that I'm committed necessarily to supporting you if you run for president.
If so, it'd be an awful decision for me to make because I'd like to work with you -- [ Laughter ] I would like to continue working with you against the draft without feeling that obliged me to support your ambitions.
>> You're being very sly, Al.
You're being very sly.
>> I can't keep up with you in the department of being sly.
>> Two men, opposing political views, able to engage with each other respectfully, humorously, with goodwill, and with a presumption of goodwill.
How do we get back to that?
>> Time machine?
You need a DeLorean or a Tesseract right now.
I would love to return to that era.
What do we do?
So, people often say great minds think alike.
Great minds don't think alike.
They challenge each other to think again.
A lot of people think that harmony is about always being on the same page.
But if you actually think about what musical harmony is, it's the pleasing arrangement of different tones.
And what that means is, when somebody disagrees with you, if you object to what they think, you have a lot to learn from how they think.
Now, of course, we would all rather be surrounded by people with similar values, but similarity of values is not beneficial unless you also have disparity of views.
I think consensus makes us comfortable.
It's actually dissent that makes us smarter.
And so when you encounter somebody who doesn't share your politics, instead of immediately retreating into your echo chamber or your filter bubble, you could say, "Wow.
I actually learned more from ideas that make me think hard than opinions that make me feel good.
I want to surround myself with people who challenge my thought process, not the ones that agree with my conclusions."
And I've actually started doing this on social media.
I realized most of the people I followed where people I liked -- I basically was following people because I liked the answers they gave.
And instead, I said, "What if I pay attention to people because I admire the intellectual integrity they bring to the questions they ask?"
In other words, who are the people I would listen to, regardless of what conclusion they reached, because I respect the discipline and rigor of their thought process?"
And paying attention to those people, seeking those people out for podcast conversations, reading their articles, has taught me so much more than paying attention to the people who hold the same views that I do.
And I think what that requires is to recognize that, when people challenge your core beliefs, that is not a threat to your ego.
It's an opportunity to grow.
>> I'm sure you've seen NASA's James Webb Telescope images, just mind-blowing images of deep space.
And you've written about the effect that astronauts, by having the perspective of how small humankind is as they are orbiting the Earth, that reaction, known as the Overview Effect, you say, makes astronauts realize "a common identity within all humankind."
Do you think these new glimpses of the unknown and deep space might have a similar effect for all of us?
>> It's fascinating.
The studies on astronauts that have captured this have shown that they consistently come back with more universalist values.
In other words, valuing all humans or even all life and the planet that protects human life in a way that they didn't before.
I don't know that just looking at a telescope image can accomplish the same thing.
And so I think what we should do is, we should take everybody who holds hateful views... >> And send them to space.
>> ...we should slingshot them out to space.
This is the best empirical argument for space tourism that I've ever seen.
And see if that is a lasting shift in their worldview.
>> Adam Grant, thank you for your work, for your research, for your contribution, and for joining me here on "Firing Line."
>> Thank you for having me.
It's an honor to be here.
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible in part by... And by... Corporate funding is provided by... >> You're watching PBS.