Book Review: Listen Up or Lose Out


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Listen Up or Lose out: How to Avoid Miscommunication, Improve Relationships, and Get More Done Faster
Author: Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton
Amacon, 2018
$19.95

There can never be enough books about the art and virtue of listening. As a sales trainer, I've learned that there is nothing more challenging than teaching people how to be quiet and listen. So, it was with great anticipation that I read this new book by Robert and Dorothy Grover Bolton. Never has there been a better time to try to teach people, not just salespeople, to turn down their devices, focus, and start intentionally listening to one another.

Here are some examples from the book:

The four-step reflective listening process:

  • Take it in: Reflective listening begins with accurate reception of what the speaker said. Focus on the speaker’s frame of reference
  • Sort it out: Figure out the thrust of what is being said
  • Sum it up: Develop a highly condensed summary of what was said
  • Say it back: Succinctly say it in your own words. Say it back to the speaker to make sure that you understand what she said, and she understands that you understand what she said.

My favorite chapter deals with those dreaded pauses. Oh, how I hate those pauses! I think we all do. We have a natural inclination to be petrified of dead air to the point where we would rather say something inappropriate than live through a pause.

From the book (italics are mine):

Six little-known facts about conversational pauses:

  1. Pauses are plentiful in most conversations. Living with them is part of normal conversation.
  2. Many people are uncomfortable with pauses. No kidding!
  3. The typical pause is very brief: Good listeners condition themselves to listen through the brief moments.
  4. Pauses are generally more significant moments than is commonly realized. The right word may be effective, but no word was as effective as a right-timed pause.
  5. Pauses often occur at key moments in a conversation. Silence regulates the flow of listening and talking…
  6. The average listener mishandles many pauses. Usually by interrupting the speaker, and often, at a critical point in the conversation.

I personally have seen this happen. For example, when a buyer is about to tell a seller whether he is going to buy his product or not, but his pause is too long, the salesperson jumps in and interrupts him just before he says “yes.”

The guidelines, exercises and lessons you can learn from this book will far outweigh anything you have learned in the past. This is the right book at the right time for anyone in business. The world would be a better place today if we all stopped talking and learned how to do some reflective listening.

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