Top positive review
The positive inspiration you’re looking for, with a shade too much negativity
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2020
This book’s most important lesson may be a collection of tenets you must believe to be an effective listener: (1) People are unpredictable — everyone you know or meet. (2) What you know is different from what they know. (3) There is more to the story than first appears. Kate Murphy then effectively exposes what you can *do* with those truths — how to commit to listening and its magical (though scientifically explained) ability to enrich you through learning and building close relationships. Read the book with a pen in hand — there’s no 1-pager cheat-sheet at the end.
That said, brace yourself for a certain preachiness that infuses every chapter. I wish that the book centralized all the critiques of the modern world (social media, addictive phones, political climate, etc.), so that the other chapters could more purely focus on the intersection of listening and *timeless* characteristics of the human experience (distractability, building of intimacy, a beautiful question, etc.). Instead, you’ll have to muscle through the sense that the author keeps touching on those critiques since she thinks you JUST DO NOT GET IT YET.
I also think there’s an important topic the author missed, or only brushes against: How to engender an environment where you will be listened to. It’s true that listening itself will have this impact — a great way for a person to say with genuine curiosity, “How was your day?”, is to first have that very conversation about *their* day. But you can’t rely on others to bring the same focus and intent to conversations as you will after reading this book. Is there any evidence out in the world of how to help someone *else* shift into “listener” mode? After all, the author makes the case that the best conversations — and even business or academic partnerships — involve *all* participants being listeners.
That said, this is an important work. I’ve looked for accessible best practices for listening, and this is the first I’ve found, and it’s new. I celebrate and thank Kate Murphy for her inspiration and her legwork to give me a framework and tactics to become a better human.