Friday 7 December 2018

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

Finished November 28
If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating by Alan Alda, read by the author

This book was eye-opening. Working with the public, and being a manager, communication is something I'm very interested in, so learning how to be better at it was a big draw for me. I also loved both of Alda's previous books that I've read, so was glad to find this one enjoyable as well.
I learned a lot about communication, and about the author.
For instance, I didn't know about the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science before.
Alda takes us through his own journey in learning about communication, and about things he learned while working with science professionals in improving the communication skills of scientists. He gives his take on direct experiences of personal interactions, of workshops with adults and children, and of research that he's either been involved in, or that he's learned about and talked to the researchers about.
One key takeaway was the benefit of teaching improv in terms of improving communication. This isn't about comedy, but about paying attention to the person in front of you, to their facial expression, to their body language, to their gaze, and learning how to respond to those things in ways that improve not only your own communication, but also that of the person you're interacting with. It makes so much sense, but I'd never connected it before. He speaks about a variety of improv games that were used in communication workshops with people of all ages, and the effects that these had on the people involved.
He touches on the power of storytelling, the barriers of jargon, the role of empathy, and ways to get "in sync" with another person.
He also talks about his own personal experiments in changing his behaviour to see what would happen, and how he learned more about himself, as well as generating ideas for further research in this field. He includes his own mistakes and missteps, and what he learned from them.
This is an amazing read, and I highly recommend it to everyone. After all, we all communicate.

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