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The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,130 ratings  ·  165 reviews
One person talks; the other listens. It's so basic that we take it for granted. Unfortunately, most of us think of ourselves as better listeners than we actually are. Why do we so often fail to connect when speaking with family members, romantic partners, colleagues, or friends? How do emotional reactions get in the way of real communication? This thoughtful, witty, and em ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 314 pages
Published February 16th 2009 by The Guilford Press (first published 1995)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,130 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only give this book three stars (I liked it) but would still say everyone should seriously consider reading it.

Reasons to read it:
1) It made me think hard about a huge part of my relationships, particularly family.
2) It contains a lot of wisdom about listening.

Reasons not to read it (and why I didn't REALLY like it):
1) Like a lot of psychology books, it could have been condensed to maybe half the length by cutting out generalized and extraneous case studies/examples. It is also very repetitive
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
I see how he wrote this. He came up with the idea of a book, and he jotted down notes between counselling sessions and meetings until he'd filled an exercise book. Then he grouped them loosely into themes and wrote the book.

The result is a bundle of platitudes, anecdotes, and advice which have no connection beyond their overall topic. He would have been better to write a collection of short essays rather than feign a linear narrative out of them. Definitely some useful thoughts in there, but pr
Cindy Rollins

"Listening isn't a need we have; it's a gift we give."

That is the last line of the book and a great take-away.

If you want to be a better listener, and really, don't we all, there is much to glean from this book.
A good portion of it is hidden behind the author's efforts to be PC while not actually being PC, especially on
gender. One minute he rebukes people for giving in to gender stereotypes the next he gives into them himself, thankfully.

But ultimately, I believe there were enough good rem
Have you ever felt your words fall on deaf ears? Have you ever felt like you didn't know how to listen to someone when they really needed you to?

In The Lost Art of Listening, Michael Nichols frames listening as an active art - we need practice to transform passive reception to real hearing. As a future counselor or teacher, this book grabbed me from the get-go: not only does Nichols discuss how to listen more effectively, but he also brings up the benefits of listening and the consequences of mi
Wow, I must buy a copy of this book. I can see myself revisiting this book many times in the future. I thought I was a decent listener but after reading this book I think I am a horrible listener. So glad to get the information to make me become a better listener and person after reading this. The most important thing I learned is that most of the time people just want to know you are listening and don't really care that you went through something similar. I'm hoping I don't forget the tenants b ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this and would recommend it to anyone and everyone. The author comes off as generous, empathetic, and warmly funny (in a dad humor kind of way). It's given me a lot to think about. A perfect book to set the tone for the new year.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: productivity
This book drives home very deeply just how important listening is to any conversation and relationship you have. The stakes in our interpersonal communication are much higher than you think and the book helps you tune into the pitfalls that occur as we struggle to understand those around us.

The book is organized into four sections:

(1) The Yearning to be Understood
(2) The Real Reasons Why People Don't Listen
(3) Getting Through to Each Other
(4) The Specific Contexts of Listening

The first section
Brittany Fielding
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I finished! Yay! Honestly, it was an okay. The biggest problem is how the book is organized. It's like his stories and his notes were everywhere. I also had a hard time staying engaged in the book and there were some things I already knew. BUT... I did learn several techniques to become a better listen. I noticed how I say things that make me a poor listener and I like that I can recognize it in myself.

One thing that I love is when he says: "Under what circumstances do you become reactive and g
Catherine Read
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genuine listening involves a suspension of self. Holding your tongue while someone speaks is not the same thing as listening. To really listen, you have to suspend your own agenda. Forget about what you want to say, and concentrate on being a receptive vehicle for the other person.

Just because something is simple, doesn't mean it's easy. Actively listening is much harder than we believe it is and this book covers the subject from so many aspects. The author is a family therapist and his wisdom c
Scott Wozniak
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because: 1) it was so highly recommended, and 2) this is one of the core skills of my career (leadership coach, consultant, boss, etc.). To be honest, I didn't expect to learn a ton. I just wanted to remind myself of what matters and add a classic in my field to my tool kit. But it was such a good book that I learned a lot.

Fundamentally, it's the same truth that I know and teach. But his ability to explain WHY the techniques work--and when they don't work--was the best I've rea
Lynn Joshua
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! Highly recommended, even if you think you are already a good listener. The author shows how we all unwittingly commit communication mistakes, explains common differences in perception, and gives insightful advice for improvement; but most importantly, he emphasizes that no-one can improve communication by simply "trying to be a good listener", but only by genuinely caring about what the other person is attempting to communicate. This book will make you think about why you are listeni ...more
Niki Agrawal
I listened to this book on Audible, and yep it will surely teach you how to listen. Not because of the many incredible lessons, but because those useful nuggets are buried deep within layers of repeated anecdotes and repetitive content that by the time you get to the end, you will have surely acquired the patience to actively listen.

I recommend this book for skimming. It's a new perspective on relationships, and you'll see the world around you differently - not many people actually listen! Howev
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
This is good for anyone, it not only explains how to truly listen but it goes way deep into interpersonal relationships in general. How to handle feelings, how to embrace differenced, how to not be defensive and so on. I can't even go into all the ways it was helpful because I listened to it on audiobook and I'm a horrible listener so although I felt like each chapter had useful information and i could make use of it right away, i usually forgot most of it. so i'll have to buy a paper version.
Annika Lentso
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
See raamat mõtestab kuulamist ja seda kuidas me kuulame. Olulisimi märkus (neid on seal palju, aga mulle ehk suurima mõjuga): me enamasti kuulame selleks, et vastata, mitte, et aru saada.
Natalie Dana
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my top 5 books ever. Invaluable insight that leads us to really understand the nature and importance of human communication. This book made me a better mother, friend, boss/employee etc.

If at first this book feels a little dry, I urge you to keep reading; It can change your life and that of all you come into contact with.

*I first listened to this book on Audible and then purchased a hard copy for myself and another for a friend. I do prefer the Audible version if available to you.
Institute For Organization Management
Suggested by: Robert Medler
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Very thorough unpacking of how people listen, why they listen, ways to improve listening.
Includes examples and while sometimes it felt repetitive, there were nuances to each iteration and well worth exploring the dynamics of that iteration.

Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book brought up a surprising number of emotions during the reading that have been lingering with me ever since. The book covers a full spectrum of interpersonal communications as a friend, spouse, and parent. Nichols not only offers suggestions for improving communications but also makes his own confessions of his own communications failures in those areas and as a professional listener in his counseling practice.

As an introvert I was surprised at the insight that this was often a defense m
Tom Tao
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me 4 month to complete this book. It has refreshed my own record title of “the most rewarding book ever”

Solid theory, interesting stories, actionable exercise - this book has them all.

Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just listen

“The Lost Art of Listening” by Michael P. Nichols, worth to be reread a couple of times, balances between scientific approach, day-to-day examples, and prescription for treatment. This makes this book a manual for everyone who would like to work out his or her communication skills. The central idea of the book is a distance in communication with people we consider close to us (this also includes relations with friends, parents, and colleguaes).

The book consists of four parts: “the ye
Sean Scott
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a definite eye opener. You will be amazed how differently you actually....listen to what people are saying and not just hear them. I can honestly say that this book has affected every single relationship in my life. From learning how to be silent, and putting everything that is on my mind aside during a conversation has been a great help for me discovering things about those I care about most or even those I spend a significant amount of time with. I'm sure not everyone will agree w ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once I got about 25% into this I realized it was an essential read. There are times he gets a little verbose and side-tracked on relationship/parenting advice toward the end, but it is justified in the fact that true listening is really what will solve most problems in society today. I can't recommend this enough. A lot of it seems obvious and nothing you haven't heard before, but to have it laid out in one spot and explained makes it worth your time. It is filled with little insights into under ...more
Tigran Mamikonian
The book stresses a lot on the importance of listening and proves that sometimes the problem can be solved by just listening to the other position... The main idea of the book is that in order to listen well you have to master ability to suspend your own thoughts, feelings and their expression, so that the other person can speak up!
There are a lot of cases which are not always related directly to the topic, however sometimes practical. Generally, you might find something interesting in this boo
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, nonfiction
The main point of this book is that in order to listen well you need to suspend your own thoughts and try to see and feel things from the other person's point of view. Obviously the book can be a bit tedious when you're basically reading iterations of that idea for over 200 pages. However, there are lots and lots of little gems that I flagged and copied down. In summary, this isn't the most riveting read, but it's a worthwhile read.
David Teachout
If you haven't studied communication and don't bother looking at common assumptions about how people generate their narratives, this is the book for you. Incredibly basic, full of philosophical assumptions concerning communication and human psychology that are unsubstantiated, I'm at a loss as to why this is so often recommended. All well, not a complete waste of time if you're wanting to start somewhere.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of great applications and information. Sarcasm is lost a bit with the narration and I had to buy a hardcopy of the book for the exercises, but I enjoyed listening to this audiobook during my commute over a week and a half.
Becky Pliego
This book offers some very good and practical advice. So much yet to learn as I apply myself to practice what I learned and work to become a better listener!
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
Pretty useful bits of advice from someone whose job more or less consists of listening professionally. Here’s a few gems:

“We like to think we’re good at multitasking. We check our e-mail while talking on the phone. We look for things to buy in catalogues while watching TV. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can do more than one thing at a time. The truth is that we just end up doing one thing after another poorly.”

“Unfortunately, when we fail to get through to each other, we have a tendency
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
"The reason we long so much to be listened to, is that we never outgrow the need to communicate what it’s like to live in our separate private worlds of experience. Unfortunately, there is no parallel need to listen. Maybe that’s why listening sometimes seems in short supply. Listening isn’t a need we have, it’s a gift we give."

This was a very interesting and thought provoking read. It does tend to get a bit repetitive, but that's probably meant as a tactic to reinforce the themes and make sure
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Lost Art of Listening by Michael Nichols frames itself as a book about listening with a focus on relationships, but in reality is very fractured and schizophrenic in its execution. The Lost Art of Listening is principally about two things. The first is tempering your personal emotional response to someone else's words and the second is how to shape your verbal responses as to not excite their emotional triggers. In case it isn't obvious by now, Nichols specializes in couples therapy and thro ...more
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“A good listener is a witness, not a judge of your experience.” 2 likes
“If you doubt it, try telling someone about a problem you’re having and see how long it takes before he interrupts to describe a similar experience of his own or to offer advice—advice that may suit him more than it does you.” 2 likes
More quotes…