May 29, 2014
The following is Cydcor’s review of The Good Listener: Better Relationships through Better Communication by Hugh Mackay.
About The Good Listener: Now in its second edition, the Good Listener is a guide to communication within relationships by social researcher Hugh Mackay. Originally published as “Why don’t people listen?” the book discusses communication and why it is difficult for most people to properly communicate ideas to others.
One of the more interesting ways that Mackay teaches communication skills is by creating a fictional, and rather dysfunctional, family. As Mackay explains it, “most of us learn about communication from our families,” and by illustrating communication problems through the issues of a single family the reader will hopefully retain the lessons more completely.
Cydcor recommends this book to future leaders because: Communication is one of the most important skills for a leader to learn. Not only does clear communication help leaders to motivate and inspire their people, but it also helps organizations to promote discipline and strategic alignment. The very best leaders are good communicators and many otherwise excellent companies struggle based on communication issues within their leadership.
Mackay does an excellent job of explaining why listening is important to improving relationships, and provides practical advice on how to listen and resolve conflicts through communication.
Our favorite part: Our favorite passage appears rather early in the book and sets up the entire premise for Mackay’s thesis:
“The real mystery is why, when we are so keen to communicate, we so consistently fail to take into account what our experience should have taught us at a very early age: the fact that, generally speaking, people only pay close attention to things which directly concern them- things which are relevant to their own situation, their own needs, their own interests- and, even when they do listen, they will be listening to everything in their own way.”
Mackay goes on to explain that people are not blank slates on which we can write our messages, rather every person has their own mechanism for viewing the world. Everyone sees the world very differently, and because of this we often communicate in a way that makes sense for us but not to others. It’s an eye-opening look at why communication fails, and how it can be repaired.
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