Wednesday, January 08, 2014

“The Tell” by Matthew Hertenstein – The Untapped Power of Instinct

The Tell by Matthew Hertenstein (Book cover)
Even though people tend to remind each other to trust their gut/instincts and just make the choice that first springs to mind, decisions are seldom truly undertaken in this manner. Most of us simply dismiss our predictions due to a lack of concrete evidence, preferring to analyze things logically and making a decision based on the known information.

However, as Matthew Hertenstein explains it in The Tell, our instinct is far more powerful than we believe, being capable of subconsciously drawing information from small clues that our conscious mind misses. Just to make things clear, Hertenstein, the author, has earned a PhD in psychology from the University of California in Berkeley, so his thoughts on the subject aren’t pulled from thin air, but rather from years of education and research.

The book dives into the topic of the subconscious instinct for a rather large chunk of it, explaining its workings and how they manifest themselves during our conscious life. That part is a true pleasure to read and is really a gold mine of knowledge so far as understanding the human mind goes. However, the next part is where things start to get really interesting as Hertenstein explores the idea of harnessing the observational powers of your subconscious and implement them in your daily life, this time while being perfectly conscious.

In other words, the author explains how to read the most subtle clues given out by people and their bodies in order to form a more complete understanding of the situation. For instance, he explains how one can use such observations to his/her advantage during a job interview; the clues can serve as an indicator on where and how to lead the conversation, increasing the candidate’s chance of being hired.

As I mentioned it before, Hertenstein is far from being a slouch in this domain and the information here isn’t just whipped out of thin air. Of course, when we are dealing with a subject such as this one there are always a couple of loose ends and blanks that need to be filled in with educated hypotheses. However, I don’t believe that they hurt the book’s content at all; if we were to dismiss all theories and ideas on the basis that they are not perfect, we wouldn’t have even gotten around to inventing the wheel.

All in all, those curious to learn about the powers of observation and the unconscious mind should definitely put this book on their to-read list. However, be careful not to mistake this book for a gift of power; it explains the long and arduous road to gaining a better understanding of the world, rather than teaching a mind-reading trick.


Matthew Hertenstein

Matthew Hertenstein


Matthew Hertenstein is an American author who earned a PhD in psychology at the University of California in Berkeley. Though so far (early 2014) he has only written two books, The Handbook of Touch and The Tell, they have both been featured on various shows and news articles.

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