How To Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication And Deeper Connections, by Becky Harling
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Those who know me are quite aware of the fact that I frequently lament how awkward my communications are and how silence and difficulty in having people communicate with me has long marked my own interactions with other people . Both my awkwardness and my awareness of it tend to lead me to read many books on communication . There are likely many such people, and this book seems to assume that there is a wide audience of people who wishes to communicate better, something that seems like a pretty fair guess as far as I am concerned. Many people are focused on talking so that people will listen, but this book offers the reverse advise, how to listen so that people will talk. Indeed, this is very necessary advice, as there are many of us–myself included–that are rather insistent on sharing our own stories but not a lot of people that really get enjoyment in listening to what others have to say in the midst of busy days or when we were are tired or impatient, which is often quite often. So, on a mere conceptual alone this book has a lot to offer to its readers.
In terms of its organization and structure, this short book (it was just over 100 pages in my e-book version) is divided into ten chapters. These chapters deal with such matters as asking people how well we listen to them, raising our self-awareness of how we act in conversations, honoring the stories of others, silencing our inner fixer, asking great questions to draw the other person out, offering empathy and validating the feelings of others, making sure our nonverbal communication lines up with our verbal statements, seeking to understand during conflict, letting go of distractions so that we can be fully present during conversations, and being available for other people. Each of the chapters includes, at its end, a series of exercises designed to help readers listen to God, listen to ourselves, and listen to others. While nothing in this book would seem particularly earth-shattering in terms of insight, the practices discussed here certainly do cut against the grain of modern existence and require observation, consideration, and self-reflection to adopt.
Although most of this book seems somewhat self-explanatory, there is a great deal of insight to be found in it. So long as someone is aware that they struggle with communication and longs to make it better, something can be done. It is pretty likely that this book, with its encouragement to be more self-aware but also more concerned with other people, will do good in helping its readers to become better and more patient listeners and the sort of people others will feel safe communicating with. There are so many people who feel burdened with stories that it would be good for there to be more people who are capable of easing that burden by being good listeners. Of course, if one wishes for a better world it is worthwhile to help the world in that regard by becoming a good listener. Someone who heeds the advice and suggestions and insight of this book will certainly be a far better listener, and that is a very good thing. This book is a useful book dealing with a common but often unrecognized problem between people.
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