The Three P's of Rethinking


When you feel strongly about something, how do you convince others you are right? Do you default into Preacher, Prosecutor or Politician mode? Adam Grant asks this question in his newest book, Think Again. In Grant’s interview with Inc.Com, he summarizes the Three P’s like this:

  • Preacher: "When we're in preacher mode, we're convinced we're right," explained Grant. We use this mode when we think we have the truth and want to spread it. We’re trying to persuade others to our way of thinking.

  • Prosecutor: "When we're in prosecutor mode, we're trying to prove someone else wrong," Grant says. We’re trying to win an argument by pointing out the ways the other person is incorrect.

  • Politician: In this mode, "We're trying to win the approval of our audience." We might appear flexible, but we’re really catering to the audience without actually changing our internal beliefs.

What does it take for us to change strongly held beliefs? Usually, really good questions and the willingness to accept that we may not be right. We have to come from a place, as Grant says, where our ideas haven’t become our ideology. If we can accept our ideas as simply thoughts rather than doctrine, we hold ourselves willing to question those ideas and test their truths.


Here are some tools to help you move from preacher, prosecutor or politician to curiosity:


Ask yourself a few good questions.

  • Which mode of the Three P’s do you default into when you’re trying to convince others you’re right? Focus on the mode you tend to use, not the information. Why is that your default mode? Does your default mode change on different topics? Why?

  • If you knew you were wrong, what would you do differently?

  • Who is the audience for this belief? Why does their approval feel important?

Search for reasons why you might be wrong.

  • What evidence would convince you that you're wrong?

  • What evidence do you already have that contradicts your belief? What evidence have you already discredited and why?

  • What would your critics say about why this is wrong? Who is a trusted critic you can ask to help poke holes in my idea or thought pattern? A great way of going about this is often, "I've been thinking about X topic. I've thought about all of these things. What am I missing here?"

Consider other possibilities.

  • Are you holding this as an idea or an ideology?

  • What are three other possible outcomes or ways this could be?

  • What if your belief isn’t actually true? What would be possible then?

  • The last time you realized you were wrong about something, how did you come to change my mind? What allowed you to see the situation or your belief differently?

Challenge yourself to get curious about your deeply held ideas and see what else might be possible.


Need some help challenging a belief? Get in touch for a complementary coaching session.