The Most Important Book You’ll Read This Year
A few times a year, I encounter a book that I rave about to anyone who will listen. The first one of 2020 came early when I got an advanced copy of You’re Not Listening by Julie Murphy from NetGalley (publication date January 7, 2020.)
Becoming a better listener is something I’ve been actively working on for the past couple of years. So I dove into YNL figuring I’d learns new things, while anticipating a dense scientific read. The science is there, but I was wrong on all other counts!
I was pleasantly surprised to find the book engaging from the get go. Each morning when my thirty minute timer went off to mark the end of my designated non-fiction reading time, I didn’t want to put it down!
While the object of the book is to guide readers to become better listeners, this isn’t a straight forward self help book.
When I raved about it to an acquaintance at the gym, she was interested, then hesitant. “Is this one of those books that’s going to make me feel bad about myself?” Excellent question, and definitely not. This book isn’t about how you, a specific person, are a bad listener. The premise of the book is that we the collective society are bad listeners, and why that’s so.
She goes into the science of listening, the biology of our ears and brains. Then she explores how we are taught to be poor listeners. Think about it: We’re taught to speak up, speak our truth, say our piece, tell it like it is! A quiet person is viewed as introverted or anti-social, asked What’s wrong? or Why are you so quiet? It’s no wonder we are a society that resists silence and talks over each other!
Murphy explains how listening well fosters connection, and how severely that is lacking in our society. She interviews people in careers that demand excellent listening skills: an FBI hostage negotiator, a focus group moderator, a hair dresser, and radio interview show producers, among others. Through their insights, we see that most of the time all people are looking for is to be heard.
“In our fast paced and frenetic culture, listening is seen as a drag. Conversations unfold slowly and may need to be revised. Listening takes effort. Understanding and intimacy must be earned. While people often say, “I can’t talk right now,” what they really mean is, “I can’t listen right now.” And for many, it seems they never get around to it.” – Kate Murphy
The reason this book is so important is because there are so many factors contributing to our poor listening that we aren’t even aware of.
I guarantee that when you read it, you won’t feel bad about yourself. Instead, you will feel inspired to do better at connecting with others and truly hearing what they have to say. Because that’s what you want too!!