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You’re Not Listening. What You’re Missing and Why it Matters by Kate Murphy. Book review

January 4, 2020

You're Not Listening book cover with a large conch shell

When You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters came up for review, I was immediately drawn to it. The idea of taking a journey through the art of listening from different people’s perspectives, and professionals trained to pay attention to what people are communicating to them, intrigued me.

These days, social media is a way to listen to the whole world, but so much is lost because it is not face-to-face and that lack of extra information results in all sorts of unpleasant misunderstandings. There is just nothing like having the person you are talking with right there in front of you.

But are you doing a proper job of connecting with them even then? I know there have been times where I just haven’t been able to do that effectively, especially with people I know well, because I’ve missed something vital in what the whole of them is trying to say to me.

There is also a professional reason why I thought You’re Not Listening would be useful. I am a writer and researcher. Writers rely on absorbing an assimilating what is going on around them. I certainly do. As a qualitative researcher I frequently conduct individual interviews, as well as focus groups, to develop a narrative of a person or group of people.

But just how much attention to I pay to what is being communicated to me? I thought this book would be an excellent way to refresh and hone this important part of writing practice and being able to see if there was a way I could ask questions more effectively in my research?

Kate Murphy has certainly taken an impressive cross-section of society and professionals to consider what it is to really listen to what someone is saying, particularly thinking about non-verbal communication in conjunction with what can be heard. This broad spectrum of individuals provides an insight into the unique ways different people communicate and really made me think more deeply not only about what I might glean from someone, or a group of people, as a writer and researcher, but also as one human being connecting to another.

Was I really listening? As I began to read the book, I recognised some things I was already doing, which was reassuring. But there were also things that I needed to tweak with my interpersonal skills. I began to apply the concepts while I was working through the fluid and very interesting read. They certainly made a difference.

You’re Not Listening is a book that is well worth reading with regards to communication on a personal level. Through it you learn not only to take in what you hear (useful for those meaningful phone calls), but also the whole panoply of visual clues on a face-to-face encounter.

You’re Not Listening was courtesy of Vintage Publishing via NetGalley.



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