Have you noticed that the pace of our society seems to get faster all the time? People report having less in-depth, meaningful conversations, yet have more breadth of connection--more "contacts" in their online Rolodex. Twitter, Facebook and other new media tools have given us the ability to connect at an unprecedented level in terms of quantity of connections. More books on how to use these tools for networking are flooding the marketplace to join the already countless books on how to increase your bottom line with more goals, techniques, and action-oriented steps.
Could these new media tools and productivity philosophies be compromising our ability to be present with people? We may have thousands of Twitter "followers", a few hundred Facebook "friends", an ever-growing to-do list that we keep up with, and our goals categorized by long-term, short-term, and immediate. These accomplishments can give us a somewhat distorted sense of success.
Certainly these tools can be an aid to business and personal connection, but where can we find help to balance these action-oriented suggestions? We don't want to fall into the trap of being too busy "doing" and forget the other part of communication: being present, listening, caring.
Dr. Mark Goulston's Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone is the perfect book to bring back balance when focusing on productivity and efficiency has compromised the quality of your business or personal relationships.
Dr. Goulston brings a unique blend of expertise to this subject. He has been a UCLA professor of psychiatry for more than 25 years, an executive coach, and has trained FBI and police hostage negotiators. Seems like the perfect qualifications to show us how to get through to absolutely anyone.
As a non-fiction junkie, I've read countless books on health, biographies, self-help, spirituality, personal growth--you know, the kinds of subjects you often find here at HuffPost Living. Truth be told, a lot of books coming down the pike are basic concepts repackaged, and at this point I find myself just skimming through some books looking to see if there is a pearl or two from which I can glean some wisdom.
When Just Listen came to my office, I was intrigued. I skimmed though it one day as I was eating breakfast, although this was a different type of skimming. I skimmed though it because I was fascinated with the material and couldn't slow down to read every word. So after my initial skimming, I read the entire book...three times. It was that kind of book so rich in wisdom that every time I read it, I felt like it was the first.
What was different? Unlike a lot of professional and personal books that have goal setting, efficiency, and more action-oriented tasks as the focus, Just Listen is the refreshing opposite. Dr. Goulston shares with readers how a more receptive approach is necessary. Instead of trying to force the close of the deal, the job promotion, or a resolution to a family challenge, he provides guidelines and practical suggestions on how to allow these developments to take place more naturally and authentically.
The book offers down-to-earth and doable advice on how to communicate with just about anyone. Drawing upon his clinical experience, coaching expertise, and his own personal challenges as a husband and father, he gives us a lively read with Just Listen's conversational tone.
Dr. Goulston provides a guide to evaluate how well we are actually communicating. "Listening between the words," providing an "empathy jolt," and how to effectively and peacefully get through to angry, resistant, and narcissist people are a few of the many jewels presented.
I asked Dr. Goulston to share his inspiration for Just Listen:
As a psychiatrist for 25 years, I have observed that people just weren't listening. I have noticed that people have a deep need to be listened to and cared for, but often don't want to develop the ability to listen and care for others.
I've seen people negotiating more than relating. Relating requires pausing and listening to what someone else is saying without any other agenda other than understanding exactly what they meant to say. The listening you do validates that what they meant to say is worthy of being listened to. Being actually listened to instead of just heard is very healing to the human spirit.
Continuing to listen deeply is the only thing that keeps aloneness and loneliness away. As soon as you stop listening and stop caring, aloneness and loneliness come back, and alienation is right behind it.
WATCH: Dr. Goulston shares one of many experiences where "listening between the words" dramatically decreased resistance in a high-powered CEO:
If your pursuit of quantity (more, bigger, better) has compromised the quality of your life Just Listen can help you get it back. If you've gotten out of the habit of truly listening, being empathetic, and having a deeper connection on a personal or professional level, there are practical techniques to help one develop those qualities that may have gotten lost in pursuit of productivity--or may have never been there to begin with.
An incentive to read this book might be to close more deals, increase sales, or improve business and personal relationships. Following Dr. Goulston's pearls of wisdom will most likely result in achieving these reasonable goals. I also predict that the surprise side effect of employing his strategies for more mindful communication will result in more happiness, peace of mind, and a richer quality of life.
Have you found yourself caught in the busyness of life, compromising your ability to be truly present? I'd love to hear your story, and any tips you might have for our readers.
For more pearls of wisdom from Dr. Goulston, visit http://justlistenthebook.com.
Follow Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drpatriciafitz