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The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  352 ratings  ·  44 reviews
TV, radio, traffic, telephones, pagers - our minds are bombarded daily by constant noise and clutter. No wonder so many people find it increasingly difficult to listen and comprehend. Simple pieces of information such as names go "in one ear and out the other." Poor listening may have tragic consequences such as the Challenger disaster and the Potomac River crash of 1982, ...more
Paperback, 254 pages
Published February 1st 2003 by Quest Books (first published October 1st 2000)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Mattheus Guttenberg
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: relationship
The Zen of Listening is a book introducing a new way to approach listening and speaking to others. Most of us listen with the intent to respond, to insert our own opinions, to ostensibly add to what the other is saying - few people simply listen without agenda. Shafir presents an argument that the best listening, the only real true listening, is listening without pretense or expectation. One truly listens by "getting into the person's movie" and following their story, without interruption or ego ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciated the insights Rebecca had to offer. There were many nuggets of helpful information throughout the book, and I finished this with eager expectations of improving my attentiveness while listening. I also have to add that I was excited to see instant gratification when I put some suggestions into practice when talking with my kids. I am encouraged and looking forward to implementing some of these techniques to improve my ability to listen effectively to others.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: health
I didn't learn anything from this book, no zen, no different techniques, nothing about how to deal with difficult conversations particularly, and who the hell is saying 'gosh darn it' to going to offend? But my partner enjoyed it, so a star for that.
Scott Gardner
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good concepts but I found the book belabored the point at times and was difficult to keep reading.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Having had "active listening" on my to-learn list for a few years now, I finally settled on a book to read. The choice was pretty random, this book came up as a suggestion and I though that, well, why not? Despite a mediocre Goodreads rating I decided to give it a go.

Well, maybe I should have spent some more time looking for a better read. This book is not worthless, but it's short, meaning that between the "why you should read this book"-chapters in the beginning, and the "why there is still m
Özden Yiğit
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have learnt lots of practical tools regarding mindful listening that I have already started to use. First of all, the book starts with a self-awareness test about your listening skills. There are several good techniques which everyone can use to improve listening skills. I especially like “getting into other party’s movie”. The book is not only about mindful listening but also being more open minded and focusing on more other party’s needs, opinions and agenda other than ours. Moreover, linkin ...more
mike casey
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great tools and book

Highly enjoyed this book. It gives you so many tools and techniques to stay focused on what your hearing and how to respect your audience and who your listening to. Such a great book:)
John Fredrickson
This book reminds us of the power of active, engaged listening. Much of the content of the book has the feel of things that we already know, but which we may poorly execute in daily life.
Shellee Diggs
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book
Rita D. Speer
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good purview

This book gave me a good overview of issues related to listening. It is a good place to begin an in-depth study.

Leslie Pierce
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book. Invaluable.

This information is priceless if you want to improve every relationship you have. The first duty of love is to listen.
Christie Sitterly
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a great self-help book to help those who have problems with listening and remembering information. I especially loved the meditation suggestions which have changed my life!
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
A constructive and mindful approach to improving your capacity for being fully present with others and connecting with them on a deeper level by listening, to both others and yourself. Listening and paying attention are rightly promoted as some of the most caring and healing acts we can do for others.

I find myself now paying more attention to obstacles preventing me from listening to people, more consciousous of how I'm responding, and looking forward to listening to people I normally don't want
Artur Massana
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've conducted some trainings related to the so-called "active listening" approach. I bought this book because I liked the non-behavioral approach to listening that this book advocates. I strongly agree with the intuition that you might behave as you were listening and at the very same time being totally mindless about the content of the message. So, the only way to improve your listening skills is "digging deeper" and start changing some convictions, attitudes and... paying mindful attention to ...more
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a deceptively simple read; the book was easy to get through, but after you read each chapter you are left with a lot to think about. Not a typical communications book full of techniques, this book concentrates on how you think about interactions. Reading the book will leave you with insights that will help you to improve your interactions with others, both by thinking about how you listen, and by helping you to better understand interactions which bother you. As I read the book in paper ...more
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic advice in this book! I considered myself a good listener, but after reading the examples in this book I've discovered there is a lot of room for improvement! I am working on listening without judgement or bias, but I'm especially focusing on listening to others without my own agenda (yes - I was the person who tends to interrupt, finish people's thoughts for them and bring the focus of the conversation back to what I wanted to discuss).

Another wonderful nugget of wisdom in this book is
*Update* I just read this book for the second time. If possible, I enjoyed it even more, and received more benefit from it than I did from the first reading.

Excellent, excellent, excellent book!

In our culture and our education systems, the importance of reading, writing, and speaking are stressed, but the skills associated with listening are mostly ignored, much to our detriment.

Shafir teaches how to be a mindful listener and breaks down all the barriers we can have to listening. She show how
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
From the title I suspected that this book will provide zen inspired techniques to enhance your listening skills. But that didn't happen (the sub-chapter called Mindful listening just described breathing meditation). A I have a feeling that zen was used just as marketing strategy as, except of constant mentioning of mediation, there was not that much else about zen.

So what insights one can get from the book:
- meditate to calm your mind to listen better, though the book is not a good place to star
Tom Novotny
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book partially inspired me to begin my practice of daily meditation and mindfulness.
Jul 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for any book with the title "The Zen of ....." So I picked up The Zen of Listening with high hopes. It's a gentle, good book, especially for beginners and those with ADD. But for anyone who has thought about or read about listening, there won't be many surprises here. Just good, commonsense Zen teachings about mindfulness, presence, and attentiveness. Shafir shares some good stories and the sense of calm engagement she projects is very, well, Zen-like. I think she would make a great ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
A very good survey of the practice of listening. What makes this book distinct from other books on listening is it’s location within the practice of mindfulness — which is a popular topic at the moment. Full of practical strategies to improve listening and apply mindfulness (meditation and living fully in the present) to this most significant of human activities. Everyone would benefit from reading this book — even if one didn’t wish to take on the meditative aspects. The author is clearly very ...more
Ingrid Exner
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is another great book that I am glad that I picked up a few years ago. I had always been into Mindfullness so, the cover caught my eye right away. This is a great reference book as well as a great reminder for those of us who either think that we are great listeners or that people are listening to us. It dicusses all those "techniques" like paraphrasing, summation etc but, it ialso talks about the benefits and the reasons why we really need to both tell our stories and to listen to the stor ...more
Rebecca Young
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very good book and an interesting read overall. The first few chapters were the very best and so useful in analyzing your own listening style. She have very practical and useful suggestions for improving listening skills. I felt like the book was a little longer than necessary and completely skipped parts that were strictly about office/boss interactions. I love the simple idea of staying mindful in a conversation and learning to stop the distractions in our own heads.
Candace Haskell
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-books-read
I really learned a lot. I already meditate, but her focus on that as a way to better listening made me realize how some of the skills I developed meditating carry over to good listening.
The best nugget was realizing how bad it is to interrupt people - a habit of mine. So is sometimes just seeing the other as boring and waiting to get my points in. I really do usually intently listen but now I do not interrupt no matter what!
Jul 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really nice, helpful, and well written. The art of listening from the point of view of mindfulness, how to practice it, teach it and use it for us especially in this age of distraction.

Veramente bello, utile e ben scritto. L'arte dell'ascolto dal punto di vista della mindfulness, come praticarlo, insegnarlo ed usarlo soprattutto nei nostri confronti in quest'epoca di distrazioni.
Holly Dietor
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There is a reason we are created with two ears and only one mouth; we should be listening two times as much as we speak.

Do you understand the difference between hearing and listening? Do you know how to turn your willingness to truly listen into a gift? Read this book.

Learn how to be present and open to what is being shared with you. It will help you grow into a true Human Being.
P.J. LaRue
The communication points the author discussed were excellent. The Zen side felt forced as though the author was looking for something to make her book different than all the others, and that was her "angle."
Joanne Cinquemani
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in sharpening their listening skills
This is a great book to help the reader re-focus on the art of listening.
Lorian Gray
Aug 23, 2008 is currently reading it
I realized how much negative self-talk I have going on that totally eclipses what other people are trying to say to me.
Nov 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a good book that really makes you think about how well you listen. I liked that she gave an approach to listening rather than just tips and tricks.
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