You're Not Listening
A Book Review
If you’re a reporter at the New York Times it can be assumed that you are a good listener. Kate Murphy recognized that she had spent a great deal of her career listening to others and how powerful this listening can be. In You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters, Murphy offers a manifesto for reviving the lost art of listening in a world where people would rather have the loudest voice. She writes, “To really listen is to be moved physically, chemically, emotionally, and intellectually by another person’s narrative.” Over the course of the book she teaches us how to do this.
Murphy shares from her own experience becoming an expert listener. She writes, “The most valuable lesson I’ve learned as a journalist is that everybody is interesting if you ask the right questions. If someone is dull or uninteresting, it’s on you.” The book is full of tricks she has picked up along her journey. One trick I love is replacing “why” questions (which can come across as accusatory) with “tell me about” questions (which show genuine curiosity).
Murphy’s occupation also gives her quite the pool of experts to draw from and the book is full of fascinating profiles of gifted listeners. One that sticks with me is Barry McManus, former chief interrogator for the CIA, who Murphy describes as “compulsively curious.” Murphy unpacks what makes McManus and others so good at listening. All of this comes together for a fun and fascinating read that will make you a better listener and maybe even a better human.