You're Not Listening Book Summary - You're Not Listening Book explained in key points
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You're Not Listening summary

Kate Murphy

What You're Missing and Why It Matters

4.5 (324 ratings)
22 mins
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    You're Not Listening
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    Listening is a rare skill – especially today.

    We’re not really encouraged to listen these days. It’s pretty much the opposite, in fact: we’re encouraged to broadcast ourselves. We train ourselves in public speaking, we constantly announce ourselves to the world on social media, and of course we chat away endlessly on our phones.

    But when was the last time you truly felt someone was listening to you? And how about the last time you really listened closely to someone else?

    It’s ironic that even though we’re more connected than ever before, we’re also experiencing what some have called an epidemic of loneliness, as the population ages and younger people retreat to their phones and computers. It’s easier to stay in contact with each other, but the quality of all this communication isn’t cutting it; people still feel isolated.

    In other words, they're not getting the attention they crave. You won’t be shocked to learn that our attention span has gone down recently, but you might be surprised that – since as recently as 2000, according to research by Microsoft – the average attention span has decreased from twelve seconds to just eight. That actually puts us below the nine-second attention span of a goldfish.

    What’s to blame? Our phones certainly play a part, as well as all the other technological devices we’re addicted to. In fact, distractions are everywhere around us – even in the form of the music piped into shops and cafes.

    All of which means that there’s something extra special about focusing your attention on what somebody else is saying. A good conversation can cut through all the background noise around us. And you’ll be amazed at the things you’ll learn. Everybody in the world is interesting, the author suggests – you just have to ask them the right questions.

    How do you do that, though? The author spoke to some of the best listeners in the world to find out.

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    What is You're Not Listening about?

    You’re Not Listening (2020) casts a spotlight on the undervalued skill of listening. It’s filled with examples of talented professional listeners, as well as practical advice for getting more out of conversations with others – not by saying more yourself, but by listening more closely to others.

    Best quote from You're Not Listening

    Everybody is interesting if you ask the right questions. If someone is dull or uninteresting, its on you.

    —Kate Murphy
    example alt text

    Who should read You're Not Listening?

    • Couples looking to improve their communication skills
    • Professional listeners, from journalists to business negotiators
    • Everyone who wants to have better conversations

    About the Author

    Kate Murphy is a journalist from Houston, Texas. She has become a talented listener through her many interviews and articles for publications including the New York Times, the Economist, and Texas Monthly, as well as Agence France-Presse.

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