Good Bedtime Reads: Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell

Dr. Monica Arndt

Review submitted by Dr. Monica Arndt, PGY4 resident in the Department of Anesthesiology at Yale School of Medicine

With the proposition of ‘what we should know about the people we don’t know’, Malcolm Gladwell invites us to approach strangers with humility and caution on his best seller “Talking to Strangers”.

With his engaging and intriguing prose, he takes us on a journey through polarizing subjects, offering his lens on sensitive topics, while inviting us to revisit our own perceptions. Could one reason with der Fuhrer to avoid a global war? What would navigating the fine intricacies of the secret service entail? Is there any logic in grasping the social interactions that could lead to sexual abuse and pedophilia?

Gladwell masterfully wraps these seemingly unrelated topics by hypothesizing we all default to truth in our daily interactions, and many expected and unexpected developments arise from that concept. The balanced observations he offers, while digesting widely known controversial events, looking at them from both sides of the story, invites us to question our own conclusions and beliefs.

"Talking to Strangers" is an invitation to rethink our own behaviors in our daily interactions, from carrying on ordinary daily tasks to taking care of our most frail patient; it was an absolute pleasure to read, and I chewed through it quickly. If you are interested in social interactions, developing interpersonal skills and honing leadership abilities, this is a must read.

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