What You Don’t Know About Listening (Could Fill a Book)
Jon F.White, Alexandra Taketa
(Reviewed: April 2014)
Are you a good listener? It’s the kind of question that evokes a visceral response. But the deft way Jon F. White and Alexandra Taketa expand on that topic will make most readers want to read further.
Should they do so, they will be treated to a superb discussion about how authentic listening goes far beyond signaling the most cursory of acknowledgements: the nodding heads and monosyllabic-filled utterances that too often pass for conversation.
The authors have filled What You Don’t Know About Listening with the kind of solid advice that goes far beyond the typical “Let’s feel good” books about sharpening communication skills. They ground their rigorous approach in the belief that when conversers use the right kind of questions, specifically “open-ended” (what vs. why) queries, they trigger answers that not only provide fertile ground for further thoughtful questioning, but also help speakers feel that they have been heard.
While focusing on the benefits of asking great questions is not new, the authors surpass other books of this ilk by demonstrating in depth how closed-ended questions are so counter-productive. The authors convincingly argue that this type of questioning often makes people feel defensive and subsequently less inclined to talk.
They also provide solid role-play scenarios where readers can understand the give and take of a conversation when they are on the path to becoming great listeners. Later chapters focus on how business leaders can apply these same listening habits to their hiring, delegating, and coaching responsibilities.
In a world where the signal-to-noise ratio threatens meaningful conversation, What You Don’t Know About Listening should be required reading for everyone who not only feels they have something to say, but who also have a stake in what they are able to elicit from others.
“I loved the writing style and humor—it was fun to read. The great exercises and your real-life stories bring each of the core concepts to life. It’s a winner! (BTW, I flagged a bunch of pages to give to someone who desperately needs this!”)Beverly Kaye, Co-author of Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, 5th edition, and Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go
“Better listeners simply make better leaders. What You Don’t Know About Listening provides a step-by-step approach to listening techniques that I found to be concise, practical, and actionable. I recommend this book for leaders and management teams seeking self-improvement and higher self-awareness.”Robert E. Grant, CEO, Alphaeon Corporation
“I think about what you taught me quite often, particularly with respect to diplomacy and how to ask questions without people feeling like I’m attacking them. Your advice has worked for me!”Eric Hayes, Vice President, Platform Marketing at Broadcom
“I think the content is spot-on in terms of concepts and practice. This is a very useful book.”
“I love the book. It’s so engaging. I didn’t have to force myself to read it!”
“A very worthwhile book. The language, phraseology, and explanations are simple but packed with lots of theory and practice.”
“The personal experience stories throughout the book help reinforce the concepts and add texture to the narrative.”
“The use of sample scripts, key thoughts, and exercises makes WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT LISTENING very practical. It will really help leaders improve their listening skills.”
“This book makes a clear distinction about the choices people can make every day in order to be better listeners. The ideas presented are very clear, cogent, and useful. It’s easy to read and understand.”