One person talks; the other listens. It's so basic that we take it for granted. Unfortunately, most of us think of ourselves as better listeners than we actually are. Why do we so often fail to connect when speaking with family members, romantic partners, colleagues, or friends? How do emotional reactions get in the way of real communication? This thoughtful, witty, and empathic book has already helped over 100,000 people break through conflicts and transform their personal and professional relationships. Experienced therapist Michael P. Nichols, PhD, provides vivid examples, easy-to-learn techniques, and practical exercises for becoming a better listener and making yourself heard and understood, even in difficult situations.
©2009 Michael P. Nichols (P)2016 Tantor
"This is more than a good book; it is a vital manual for any of us who would either like to feel good about our relationships or avoid dying before the end of our lives." (Carol M. Anderson, MSW, PhD, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
Seriously, my husband talks so much I generally listen to only 1/3 of what he has to say. Unfortunately, I noticed this habit has spilled over into other areas of my life. You have to practice the art of listening, and I've been getting sloppy.
"The Lost Art of Listening" is absolutely essential for good relationships. It covers how communication breaks down, why people don't listen (we struggle to suspend our own needs, our biases filter what we hear, emotionality makes us defensive and what we expect to hear clouds what was actually said), to actually getting through to people and making those all important connections that make us feel like yes, we're human, and yes, we count. We need empathy and that only begins with letting go of our assumptions and with being open.
The book also covers how to listen in context: how to communicate with partners, family members, children (even teenagers!), and friends and colleagues.
While this is an essential book, please note that it truly could've used some editing. You'll hear a lot repeated but, as someone who tunes out two-thirds of the world around her, I guess that's kinda necessary ( >sheepish grin< ).
If you're into self help books, you must get this one. I got it thinking it was going to be about kids and their phones. If I had to sum up what it was about without simply saying listening. I would say it's about human decency. Not the Hollywood kind with unattainable acts of benevolence but about the just being a better person kind. Part way into it, I thought this book can really help me with my annoying relationship with my mother, or help my already good relationship with my wife. At the end I realized this book can help ME. In all parts of life. I try to listen better to everyone because it benefits me. I highly recommend this book.
Loved it all around. Wonderful insight, stories and instruction. I will definitely be reading (listening) to this over and over for years to come. I've already gifted this book to 3 others!
There are 4 basic means of communication:
I have had very little training on the last. This book was excellent and I'm excited to apply what I've learned.
It needs to be shorter. Felt like it just kept going on about the same thing.
I would only keep the first 3 hours.
This book brought up a surprising number of emotions during the reading that have been lingering with me ever since. The book covers a full spectrum of interpersonal communications as a friend, spouse, and parent. Nichols not only offers suggestions for improving communications but also makes his own confessions of his own communications failures in those areas and as a professional listener in his counseling practice.
As an introvert I was surprised at the insight that this was often a defense mechanism for people who weren't listened to as children. There's a tendency, he says, to give up on being listened to creating a shell of isolation, busy-ness, and reserve as a way to avoid opening up old wounds. I could see that. I came from a family where people were naturally quiet with each other. Disturbing that quiet could be cause for reproach. This is probably what lead me to two marriages with partners who were bubbly, vivacious, and terrible listeners. My late wife was well-meaning but even our daughters avoided opening up to her because of her odd listening style. You would start with a story about something that happened during the day and she'd interrupt with "What were they wearing?" "What was the restaurant like?" "What did people order?" She interrupted flow, shushed people when she was busy, and threw in her own opinions about how the speaker should have acted with advice for future encounters.
We run across people like this every day, along with people who make themselves difficult to listen to by catching any open ear and telling in-depth stories that have no point. Trapped by some people like this I've actually stood at an office door, feet facing outward, looking over my shoulder, with the person continuing on as if I were hanging on every word.
Most of us face challenging people who ignore us or have no sense of boundaries. And few of us are good listeners ourselves. It's more common to react than respond thoughtfully. Often we want to share similar experiences or offer advice, or something in the way others communicate will set off emotional reactions that have more to do with our life experiences than any actual content in the conversation.
Nichols covers multiple topics and situations dealing with coworkers, spouses, and others. Each chapter offers exercises along with tips on planning alternate ways of approaching people with whom we have problems communicating.
Along with opening up some memories that weren't always pleasant I found myself cringing when I heard descriptions of ways I am a less than perfect listener. But the tips are useful and realistic. The most general is to simply be interested in what people say. So when a person says: "I had a terrible night's sleep" you can avoid typical responses like "I did, too" or "Have you tried melatonin?" or "You should stop watching TV so late" and respond with things like: "That's a shame. Why do you think that's happening?" The ideas go far beyond what is generally described as "active listening" which, when poorly applied, can be more irritating than being ignored.
I also appreciated that Nichols took aim at some gender biases that have increased with the "men are from mars" pop-psy that developed over the past few decades. About the only gender difference he mentions himself is that women tend to talk to friends face-to-face while men tend to talk during shared activities. Dealing with others as individuals rather than gender types can eliminate tons of problems at the very start.
There are endless places where we can be better listeners. Nichols says this applies as much to newborns as it does to the elderly. We have an ongoing desire to be recognized as having lives worth understanding and emotions worth respecting.
He also give advice for dealing with people who tend to explode with anger, or who latch onto any sympathetic listener, or who have trouble opening up. He provides some understanding for their motivations along with concrete suggestions.
I don't know whether this book will convert me from introvert to extrovert or perfect my listening skills but it definitely took me down some unexpected paths even as someone who considered myself an above average listener already.
At the time of writing, I have ~200 audible books and have subjected myself to more books on relationship dynamics and psychology than I care to admit. Frankly, I was growing tired of the formulaic approaches that seem so at odds with the complexity of human relationships. >> This book was a delightful change of pace.
About the pace: the narrator is slow, but it's okay. We all know you can adjust the speed as you see fit, and he nails the delivery. I actually thought he was the author because he delivers the content so successfully and convincingly. I think that reflects the quality of the content, itself, as well.
Why so good? The author draws on personal experience both as a therapist, but also as a person who has made mistakes, responded inappropriately and failed to listen; this makes it so much easier to hear him and lends powerful credibility to his message.
& the message is convincing:
- listening doesn't come to us naturally;
- you're probably not as good at it as you think;
- it is *incredibly* important to all your relationships;
- it can be very hard to do; you'll get better with practice;
- it's worth the effort.
All of this is richly illustrated with recognizable examples from very different parts of our lives (family, friends, work, partners etc).
He also introduces many fascinating (and practical) ideas for thinking about relationships and the patterns of communication that can become entrenched in one's life (& how to get out of them).
Despite having read widely, and being very interested in psychology, a few of these ideas / models were completely new to me (in particular the idea of the self as constituted from sub-personalities) - and it was really enjoyable to discover such intuitive and powerful ideas, communicated with such clarity.
Honestly, without providing a thorough analysis of the book, I don't think I could successfully convey how good it is. Suffice to say, I listened to it in 2 days, practically nonstop. I've started to implement some of the exercises he suggests and have seen immediate results in the relationships I value most.
Re: Length & "Repetition"
I know some feel this book was repetitious, but I found the different sections to be
complementary, and any repetition to be functional and valuable.
The editorial choices made mean that the chapters stand well on their own (so one can
easily dip back into a particular chapter and be reminded of key points), and the most
important ideas are revisited, with nuances for different situations being emphasized and
clarified at each stage. Especially valuable are the numerous examples from all sorts of
different types of relationships. I don't have kids, but found myself fascinated by his
explanation of parent-teen dynamics and the traps that we can so easily fall into.
Important, practical, concise (and yet well-illustrated) & with far-reaching applications from the personal to the professional. Less literary than Irvin D. Yalom's works, but also more down-to-earth, practical & relevant (and I love Yalom's works). & just the right amount of humour sprinkled throughout. Truly one of the books I have most enjoyed since joining Audible.
This was an excellent book with good points on listening. There are tests/exercises at the end of the chapters which I wish were included as pdf's as it is impossible to do them while driving and listening!
Within the knowledge of this book lies the key to many of the world's relationship struggles. The opportunity that this information brings to you and your relationships is priceless. I would suggest this book to anyone!
"Well researched and written"
It wasn't clear to me that this book would focus so much on listening to partners and family members, but although I had bought this to help with listening in work settings, I found it so useful for my personal life that I listened to it all.
Report Inappropriate Content