I always thought I was a good listener…
But reading ‘You’re Not Listening’ by Kate Murphy has made me realise that being a good listener is not necessarily how you listen to someone, but how you interact with the conversation
Here’s my long awaited book review on ‘You’re Not Listening’ by Kate Murphy.
My last few blog posts have been quite hefty and full-on.
So I thought I would keep things short and sweet today with a book review.
It’s been a while since I did a book review. Mainly because I’ve been nose deep in fiction books and I only tend to review self-growth books with the exception of ‘Ghosts’ by Dolly Alderton.
I’ve mentioned this before, but last year I read a big bunch of personal development and self-help books.
By the end of the year I was utterly exhausted by the information I consumed.
Although it was all valuable and beneficial to me, what I was really craving was a good olde fiction book!
Turns out, that craving has lasted longer than expected and all I’ve been reading for the past 4 months has been fiction.
Gosh, I must have been really exhausted!!
And just to fill you in, these are the fiction books I’ve read so far this year:
- All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – 4 stars
- The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – 5 stars
- The Confession by Jessie Burton – 3.5 stars
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – 5+ stars
- City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert – 5 stars
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – 4 stars
- The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (not yet finished)
But the good news is, I have managed to read one non-fiction book this year!
And what a mighty fine book it was – ‘You’re Not Listening‘ by Kate Murphy.
The lowdown on ‘You’re Not Listening’
In essence, ‘You’re Not Listening’ explores how essential listening is, not only to human connection and development but to our survival.
“Evolution gave us eyelids so we can close our eyes but no corresponding structure to close our ears. It suggests listening is essential to our survival.”kate murphy | You’re Not Listening
Throughout the book, Kate explores how our ability to listen has decreased over time, mainly due to the fast growth of technology.
I spoke last week about how we are all conditioned to live busy lives.
Combine this with the noise of modern life and the constant distraction provided by social media, and we have quite frankly forgotten how to listen.
We have trained our minds into tuning things out and listening selectively.
Social media has even created a FOMO culture, where we feel a need to constantly be doing something and documenting it on our stories or feeds.
Hands up if you’ve ever spent the best part of a night out with friends taking pictures or videos and uploading them straight to the gram?
And then getting distracted by other people’s content and then going down a rabbit hole of scrolling, tapping, and swiping.
Even when we go out to restaurants, we immediately whip out our phone and place it next to us on the table as though it’s a vital organ that we can’t live without.
As Kate puts it, “ it’s hard to concentrate on what’s happening in the real world when you’re preoccupied with what could be happening in the virtual one.”
And this has now had a knock-on effect on how we approach conversations and make connections with people in our daily lives.
According to a recent study by Microsoft in 2020, humans now have an attention span of 8 seconds, which is less than a goldfish.
Spread over 16 chapters, ‘You’re Not Listening’ shows us how we can all practise being better listeners.
Kate uses past conversations with people (including a CIA interrogator and toddler) to draw on her points and to explain that the only way we can truly connect with others, is by listening.
My biggest takeaway from ‘You’re Not Listening’
I always thought I was a great listener.
I love listening to other people’s experiences, learning about new cultures and hearing stories from people of different backgrounds.
But ‘You’re Not Listening’ really opened my eyes to how being a good listener is not necessarily how you listen to someone, but how you interact in the conversation.
Listening is only half of the story.
To be a good listener, you need to be able to hold a conversation and put your point of view across without becoming dismissive or argumentative.
I’m not someone who can sit for an hour and just talk about myself.
However, I am someone who can sit for an hour and listen to someone else speak and just nod in agreement or say “yea” during a pause.
I now realise that this passive way of listening does not make me a good listener.
Being a good listener, means actively listening and supporting the conversation.
It means asking questions that encourage the development of a conversation.
Supporting, not shifting the conversation
In this chapter, Kate teaches us that good listeners support a conversation, whereas bad listeners shift a conversation.
Bad listeners, use shift responses that are often self-absorbed and turn the conversation away from the speaker.
This has been ironically coined “conversational narcissism.”
John: “I had an incredible meal last night from Nandos!”
Thalia: “Eurgh I hate Nandos. I’m more of a sushi fan.”
Side note – I don’t actually hate Nandos, I just wanted to use a well-known chain restaurant that people are quite familiar with, or at least have heard the saying, ”fancy a cheeky Nandos?”
Instead, good listeners ask questions that are directed at the speaker and try to expand on the conversation.
John: “I watched an incredible film last night about young wizards learning magic!”
Thalia: “Oh really, that sounds amazing?! What was it called? Are you into magic?”
Can you see the difference between a shift response and support response?
Even the slightest change from shift to support can make all the difference and a deeper connection can be made.
“(What) we all want most in life – to understand and be understood – only happens when we slow down and take the time to listen.”kate murphy | you’re not listening
I never want to be someone who doesn’t have the time or patience to listen.
Curiosity is one of my values. I am open to learning new skills and improving my own self-knowledge.
I am now more aware of how I can become a better listener, hold a better conversation and connect more meaningfully with people.
And for this reason, ‘You’re Not Listening’ by Kate Murphy is an essential book to read.
‘You’re Not Listening’ is a practical book that draws on expert advice.
You can quite literally take the examples and information from this book and start implementing them in your life straight away.
But it’s also important to note that just like anything, becoming a good listener takes time.
Just because I have read this book doesn’t mean that I will wake up tomorrow with the ability to actively listen and contribute to a conversation.
Becoming a good listener takes practice.
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx