I enjoyed reading How To Know Everything by Elke Wiss so much, I’ve written a book summary. I’ll use a five-stage technique that Prof. Dave Sammon taught us on a recent research course at Cork University Business School. We describe the what, why, how, so what, and for whom (thanks Dave). I will then describe how I found the book, and give you some valuable takeaways from the text.
What is the book about? — At its simplest, this book deals with the art of asking questions. In reality, it’s about Socratic philosophy. It’s about our willingness to open our minds, close our mouths and listen. The concept is almost comically simple, but I found it genuinely profound.
Why read it? — We never learn how to ask good questions, we never learn how to listen to good answers. Have you ever asked someone’s name, and forgotten it a minute later? Ever asked a question that offended somebody without meaning to? Or waited for another person to stop talking so that you can speak? If so, this is for you, my friend.
So what — we can choose to become smarter or dumber with each conversation – we often choose dumber. So that. I know people who are proud to choose dumber. What drives this mindset? Arrogance covering up a fear? An attempt to mask a feeling of inadequacy? Maybe they believe that every thought that pops into their head is so special, they need to show it off. They remind me of a cat dragging a dead mouse in to its horrified owner, looking for affirmation.