Tag Archives: Books

Handpicked: Listening, Censorship, Thresholds, and Writing

A much shorter version this week. I was travelling with work and ended up reading and listening less than I thought.


Book am I reading (Non-Fiction)

People Skills by Robert Bolton.

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The chapter I have been slow to read this week is called ‘Improving Your Reflecting Skills’.

Put another way this is about improved listening.

I won’t comment much further but leave you with a few selected quotes.

Many times a person will discuss his problems with a spouse or friend and leave without any solution in sight. The speaker will often have greater insight into the problem and the alternatives facing him. He may need time to mull over these ideas and options before moving on to a firm decision.

Though it can be frustrating for the listener to get involved with another and not see the problem resolved immediately, that kind of tension is part of the cost of being a creative listener.

That last passage gets to a question that has been on my mind reading this book, and probably gets to something I need to work on; When do you do more than listen?

He goes on:

When people are not heard and responded to, time can be saved in the short run, but in the long run, the resulting misunderstanding and alienation will often require far more time or take an enormous toll on efficiency. Experience has demonstrated that when employers do not take time to listen to employees, when salespersons do not understand their customers’ needs, and when teachers do not hear the concerns of their students, they are far less efficient in accomplishing their tasks. Listening often seems to be inefficient, but when there are strong needs, deep feelings, or important concerns, the refusal to listen is very detrimental and can result in wasted time, effort, and money.

It is hard to take the step back and listen. I find it easy at times, at work in particular. In my job I know that listening and getting it right up front pays off later in a project.

* Emphasis on those quotes is mine.

Knowledge for Action: A Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Organizational Change by Chris Argyris

Continue reading Handpicked: Listening, Censorship, Thresholds, and Writing

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Handpicked: Virtual Reality, Gangrenous Fingers, Travel Agents, Brexit, and Home

A shorter, and hopefully more useful format this week. Let me know what you think.


Book am I reading (Non-Fiction)

People Skills by Robert Bolton.

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This week covered body language.

You can read more on what I learn here.

 

 

As Gerard Egan says, the averted face may mean an averted heart:

“Our approach to communication stresses the primacy of feelings. Unquestionably the content of the conversation can be very important. When the emotions are strongly engaged, however, they should normally receive primary attention. Since nonverbals are the major means of communicating emotions, they are central to understanding many of the most important things that others communicate to us.”

Honourable Fiction Book Mention

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

9969571I won’t normally mention a fiction book I am reading. Fiction is escapism for me, my evening reading when the brain needs a rest.

However, this book was mentioned in passing in a few podcasts. They never spoke about it explicitly.

It is worthy of mention here is it paints a possible future only 20 years out where Virtual Reality, in particular, has become the drug of choice. The parallels with our obsession with smartphones and Facebook are too easy to imagine. If you find yourself checking Facebook 10 times a day you could imagine yourself living a life in this alternate reality.

Continue reading Handpicked: Virtual Reality, Gangrenous Fingers, Travel Agents, Brexit, and Home

Weekly Reading: Why is Body Language so Important?

I am going to try a different approach to my regular Handpicked series. My intention with that series is to share what I have read or listened to in the past week, with a brief comment on why. However I found myself writing longer paragraphs, not a succinct useful curated post.

With that goal in mind I will keep the Handpicked posts shorter. Where I feel the urge to go into more detail on a book, article, or podcast, I will write a separate post.

Below is what would have appeared in this weeks Handpicked post in the ‘What I am reading’ section.

People Skills by Robert Bolton

I haven’t read a lot of this book this week. I made it through one chapter that covered body language.

The theme of this chapter is that we cannot NOT communicate via body language.

Whether or not we intend to our body is always saying something. Usually our feelings and emotions leak through.

I have been fascinated by body language for years and even read a couple of books on the topic back in 2002/3/4. For example I pay attention to where I sit in meeting rooms. If you sit opposite the person, across a table, that creates a barrier, whereas sitting at an angle adjacent to them is less so. It makes for a less confrontational conversation.

Continue reading Weekly Reading: Why is Body Language so Important?

Handpicked: We Can’t Read Minds, We Forgive Ourselves, And What Might Happen When we Lose Words

This post is late following my distraction by the Brexit vote on Friday.

So here is my post on what I was reading or listening to last week.


Book am I reading (Non Fiction)

 

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People Skills by Robert Bolton.

More from this book recommended at the end of the Secrets of Consulting by Gerry Weinberg.

One image, prompted by a similar diagram in the book, keeps coming to mind as I think about what I have read. Below is my own version.  I have seen similar diagrams before.

Continue reading Handpicked: We Can’t Read Minds, We Forgive Ourselves, And What Might Happen When we Lose Words

Handpicked: My Week of Learning

Here is my weekly post on what I have been reading or listening to.


Book am I reading (Non Fiction)

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The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.

I finished this book on the weekend. It is a great read.

I reviewed the book and made more detailed observations in this post.

Favourite Highlight from the week?

“The fear people have about the idea of adherence to protocol is rigidity. They imagine mindless automatons, heads down in a checklist, incapable of looking out their windshield and coping with the real world in front of them. But what you find, when a checklist is well made, is exactly the opposite. The checklist gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with (Are the elevator controls set? Did the patient get her antibiotics on time? Did the managers sell all their shares? Is everyone on the same page here?), and lets it rise above to focus on the hard stuff (Where should we land [the aeroplane]?).”

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People Skills by Robert Bolton.

This book was recommended at the end of the Secrets of Consulting by Gerry Weinberg.

I am enjoying it. I can definitely learn from it. It is about communication and understanding. It is in many ways about perception. When I read the third quote below I knew this book was for me.

So far the book has discussed barriers to communication. The things we do consciously or not that get in the way of effective communication. There are twelve barriers he mentions, many of which are surprising.

I will break with my protocol and add a quote here form the book which is worth contemplating. This is a quote within a quote at the start of Chapter Two.

“A barrier to communication is something that keeps meanings from meeting. Meaning barriers exist between all people, making communication much more difficult than most people seem to realize. – Reuel Howe, theolgian and educator”

Continue reading Handpicked: My Week of Learning

Book Review – The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

41kbppigf7lI finished reading the Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande on the weekend. What a read!

It has been surprising on many fronts. And I have known the premise of this book for a couple of years.

Where to start?

My favourite aspect of the book is that the answer is mentioned right up front. It is in the title. At the end of the first chapter, he tells you what he is arguing for.

As I read the last sentence of the chapter I admit I was thinking “Is that all?”.

“What is he going to write about for the next 200 pages if he has given the game away?” Continue reading Book Review – The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

Handpicked: My Week of Learning

Here is my weekly post on what I have been reading or listening to.


Book am I reading (Non Fiction)

41kbppigf7lThe Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.

This book has been on my reading list for a while. A project I am on at the moment brought it to the fore again. How often do we over engineer a solution?

I have referred to checklists often in the last few years. I  have used them effectively in the past. Particularly with repetitive tasks.

Why would you want to figure out a set of steps again if you have done once before? Unnecessary effort, and you might miss a step.

The checklist also aids learning. Remembering what worked before and what didn’t. It helps make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again.

Checklists come in many different guises, from a task list, to standard operating procedures, to run books, and sometimes as far as a project plan.

More to come on this book .

Favourite Highlight from the week?

“Four generations after the first aviation checklists went into use, a lesson is emerging: checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized. They provide a kind of cognitive net. They catch mental flaws inherent in all of us—flaws of memory and attention and thoroughness. And because they do, they raise wide, unexpected possibilities.”


Podcasts I Heard

Hidden Brain on NPR: How To Build A Better Job

“Why do you work? Are you just in it for the money or do you do it for a greater purpose? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on what your job is. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale University finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work. Across groups such as secretaries and custodians and computer programmers, Wrzesniewski finds people about equally split in whether they say they have a “job,” a “career” or a “calling.” This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam talks with Wrzesniewski about how we find meaning and purpose at work.”

Continue reading Handpicked: My Week of Learning