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If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating
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“Alan Alda is a man with a mission. He began with a passion to help scientists communicate with a lay audience, then realized that the skills and insights of improv that he’d learned as an actor could be transformative for everyone for whom communication is essential. And that is who will find his book invaluable: everyone.”—Deborah Tannen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of You’re the Only One I Can Tell and You Just Don’t Understand
“Alda uses his trademark humor and a well-honed ability to get to the point, to help us all learn how to leverage the better communicator inside each of us.”—Forbes
“[Alda] was frustrated that men and women of science were not able to get their points across—to the public, the media, the government. Turned out they had never been trained to do so. So Alda set out to do something about it . . . Aided by his warm, conversational style, Alda’s message shows that the lessons also apply to the rest of us—and at a time when we could really use it.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“In a time when many of us connect through text, are you communicating effectively? Turns out, your thumbs aren’t the best conversationalists. . . . Alan Alda breaks down the importance of face-to-face interaction in his new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? Alda developed this compelling conversation technique to help scientists distill down complex scientific principles for a general audience.”—Entrepreneur Magazine
“A distinguished actor and communication expert shows how to avoid ‘the snags of misunderstanding’ that plague verbal interactions between human beings. . . . A sharp and informative guide to communication.”—Kirkus Reviews
“An enlightening and thoughtful combination of shared experience and advice.”—Booklist
“In this charming, witty, and thought-provoking book, full of rich anecdotes, Alan Alda describes some of the tools of communication that he teaches in his work with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and shows how everyone—from lovers to politicians to scientists—can benefit from being better communicators. The issues he touches on are more important now than ever. His book is useful and fun, and it is a valuable tonic for these challenging times.”—Lawrence M. Krauss, author of The Greatest Story Ever Told . . . So Far
“I’ve spent a lifetime trying to understand and use the art of communication. And then comes this fellow Alda—actor, interviewer, academic, and, mostly, student—who teaches me new, useable ideas. Communicating is at the heart of connectedness. Alda, with his laudable curiosity, has learned something you and I can use right now.”—Charlie Rose
“Sit back and enjoy Alan Alda’s scientific journey of communication.”—Barbara Walters
About the Author
Alan Alda has earned international recognition as an actor, writer, and director. He has won seven Emmy Awards, has received three Tony nominations, is an inductee of the Television Hall of Fame, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator. Alda played Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series M*A*S*H, and his many films include Crimes and Misdemeanors, Everyone Says I Love You, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and Bridge of Spies. Alda is an active member of the science community, having hosted the award-winning series Scientific American Frontiers for eleven years and founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Alda is the author of two previous bestselling books, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned and Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself.
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Top customer reviews
The book is an easy, even pleasant read. Alan follows his own advice of telling stories, and the result is a book that reads fast and smoothly. But at the end of it, I felt that I had learned nothing practical about how to communicate better.
Why? Precisely because Alan tells stories (mostly about all the "fascinating" projects he's been involved in to improve how scientists communicate) but never brings it all together into a clear, memorable framework -- like, say, the four steps of Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication.
Here is my take-away. Read this, and you will have saved your time and money.
1. Good communication requires empathy.
2. Improv helps you learn empathy. If you take an improv class, it may improve your skill to communicate complex information to a lay audience, at least for a while.
3. If you can't take an improv class, try meditating daily, naming the emotions others are feeling, gazing into people's eyes, and reading novels.
4. People memorize information better if you present it to them as a story, especially a story where there is a goal, and obstacles to surmount.
5. Alan thinks highly of the book Made to Stick by Chip Heath.
In the comments, I would love it if people would suggest books that contain actual practical advice about how to communicate better.
Every single person on the planet should read this book. Alan Alda (who is a phenomenal writer) has written a highly informative book about the importance of communicating better. He then goes on to provide innovative and creative ways to help people do so. He is a natural storyteller, and the book is so entertaining that I completed it in one evening. Alda uses miscommunication stories from his own life to demonstrate how important it is for people to understand each other, and the issues that arise when we don’t. A major focus of Alda’s is teaching empathy. Relating to others creates empathy, and from there the desire to understand and cooperate is born. He also focuses on improving communication through listening with our eyes, using a story to make a point, eliminating confusing jargon, and paying close attention to what the other’s person’s face is telling us.
If I Understood You is one of the most informative and useful books that I have read in a long while. After I finished it, I immediately emailed my daughter’s teachers suggesting they use it to support a creative combined math and science class that she took last year. I also think the techniques will help me with my own relationships, including my husband, children and friends. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone. This book would make a great gift, and our world (and particularly our country right now) would be such a better place if everyone followed his ideas. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Thus there are some negative reviews. I am more positive about the principles presented by Mr. Alda. He understands the problems with crossing disciplines and has some useful guidance for people.
One has to understand though - this is NOT a strict GUIDE about how to get better at communicating.
This is exactly what is said on the cover: Alan Alda's ADVENTURES (read - "experience") in the field of good communication.
The book touches upon many topics that explain good communication and ways one can achieve it, the studies that were done, the insights professionals have. Again, this isn't a definitive guide, but it gives very good food for thought!
I've read it once through and want to go back the second time to read and this time - take notes.
Kay I think he is trying to promote seminars that he offers.