BOOKS ✭ If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating Author Alan Alda – Thomashillier.co.uk

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating From Iconic Actor And Bestselling Author Alan Alda, An Indispensable Guide To Communicating Better Based On His Experience With Acting, Improv, Science, And StorytellingThe Acclaimed Actor Shares Fascinating And Powerful Lessons From The Art And Science Of Communication, And Teaches Readers To Improve The Way They Relate To Others Using Improv Games, Storytelling, And Their Own Innate Ability To Read What S Probably Going On In The Minds Of Others With His Trademark Humor And Frankness, Alan Alda Explains What Makes The Out Of The Box Techniques He Developed After His Years As The Host Of Scientific American Frontiers So Effective This Book Reveals What It Means To Be A True Communicator, And How We Can Communicate Better, In Every Aspect Of Our Lives With Our Friends, Lovers, And Families, With Our Doctors, In Business Settings, And Beyond


10 thoughts on “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating

  1. says:

    5 starsEvery single person on the planet should read this book Alan Alda who is a phenomenal writer has written a highly informative book about the importance of communicating better He then goes on to provide innovative and creative ways to help people do so He is a natural storyteller, and the book is so entertaining that I completed it in one evening Alda uses miscommunication stories from his own life to demonstrate how important it is for people to understand each other, and the iss 5 starsEvery single person on the planet should read this book Alan Alda who is a phenomenal writer has written a highly informative book about the importance of communicating better He then goes on to provide innovative and creative ways to help people do so He is a natural storyteller, and the book is so entertaining that I completed it in one evening Alda uses miscommunication stories from his own life to demonstrate how important it is for people to understand each other, and the issues that arise when we don t A major focus of Alda s is teaching empathy Relating to others creates empathy, and from there the desire to understand and cooperate is born He also focuses on improving communication through listening with our eyes, using a story to make a point, eliminating confusing jargon, and paying close attention to what the other s person s face is telling us.If I Understood You is one of the most informative and useful books that I have read in a long while After I finished it, I immediately emailed my daughter s teachers suggesting they use it to support a creative combined math and science class that she took last year I also think the techniques will help me with my own relationships, including my husband, children and friends I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone This book would make a great gift, and our world and particularly our country right now would be such a better place if everyone followed his ideas Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review


  2. says:

    Disappointing I can t say I didn t get anything out of it, or that it s outright BS, but I expected better based on Alda s years of experience in training people on this topic Nerd addendum The absence of references is lazy for a serious nonfiction book about science It made it harder than necessary to verify some of the claims made, e.g that empathy training of doctors improves patient outcomes Alda is emphatic about this assertion but the science is pretty weak The meta analysis not cit Disappointing I can t say I didn t get anything out of it, or that it s outright BS, but I expected better based on Alda s years of experience in training people on this topic Nerd addendum The absence of references is lazy for a serious nonfiction book about science It made it harder than necessary to verify some of the claims made, e.g that empathy training of doctors improves patient outcomes Alda is emphatic about this assertion but the science is pretty weak The meta analysis not cited on page 94 involves 13 studies featuring sample sizes of 3 and 8 and not reported The studies with the most solid objective outcomes blood pressure showed no difference between treatment and control groups And for people who care about facts and such, here s the link to the reference See comment stream below fordetails Alda s claim about the impact of teaching doctors empathy is a central selling point for his technique of teaching scientists and doctors how to communicate The fact that this assertion is based on such weak evidence damages the premise of the entire book Alda doesn t claim to be a scientist or else he would get 1 , and I accept that he is a master communicator But this kind of mess just illustrates how you have to understand the basics of the scientific process before you can communicate it Science is not a collection of gee whiz factoids Science is a method for understanding the universe Science writing is not the same thing as writing science


  3. says:

    Alan Alda is something of an institution at this point He has parlayed his fame as an actor on a long running well written TV serial, M A S H, into doing whatever takes his fancy Good for him He was never extensively schooled in science but he loved it, pursued it, made a new kind of career out of having scientists explain their secrets to him on film.In a way it is out of this experience that this opportunity to explain communication came to him how do we know the other side in a conversati Alan Alda is something of an institution at this point He has parlayed his fame as an actor on a long running well written TV serial, M A S H, into doing whatever takes his fancy Good for him He was never extensively schooled in science but he loved it, pursued it, made a new kind of career out of having scientists explain their secrets to him on film.In a way it is out of this experience that this opportunity to explain communication came to him how do we know the other side in a conversation actually understands what we are saying One can imagine the numerous ways we would want to verify the other side got the message in the way we meant them to Alda uses the example of a doctor explaining a terminal diagnosis to a patient, getting no reaction, and then querying the patient Why didn t you askquestions The patient hadn t understood what the doctor was sayinghadn t known he had just said get your affairs in order Alda explains that the skill to notice how much the other in a conversation is comprehending is a learned skill We can improve He suggests that one way to do this is through improvisation exercises that require one to mirror exactly reproduce in real time the movements of another One must watch, empathize, involve oneself deeply in the other s experience in order to do this Mimicking doesn t mean one feels all the things the other does, but one gets closer to their experience.That seems to be about it There are lots of stories, etc but he isinterested in his results than I am Reminds us that advancement in these fields is painfully slow I m glad he is doing what interests him I listened to the audio, produced by Penguin Random House and read by the author He was able to put his emphases in where he wanted them, and was able to convey his interest in the subject to us, but I grew weary before the end, at the end of one lab experiment he d designed with neuroscientists and financed, thinkingoh, yes, I remember those science experiments that never seemed to go anywhere But, as he says, even the negative of a result tells us something


  4. says:

    Alan Alda is a joy to listen to and he s a good writer This book, despite its fun title, is a serious tome focused on getting across how important it is to communicate clearly and effectively Examples are cited, and exercises and games are detailed to help you do exactly that Focusing on the other person in a conversation, not just waiting for your turn to speak , and noting their facial expressions and body language are key According to Alda, if you are not willing to be changed by a perso Alan Alda is a joy to listen to and he s a good writer This book, despite its fun title, is a serious tome focused on getting across how important it is to communicate clearly and effectively Examples are cited, and exercises and games are detailed to help you do exactly that Focusing on the other person in a conversation, not just waiting for your turn to speak , and noting their facial expressions and body language are key According to Alda, if you are not willing to be changed by a person conversation then you are NOT really open and listening It turns out that empathy is really important in effective communication One of the exercises in this book mentions watching a person s face during a conversation and specifically noting and NAMING, silently , the emotions you see on their face This will sometimes tell you what they are going to say or do next It tells you if they re understanding what you re saying, or if instead they are bored or confused At times and with practice, it will sometimes seem to people that you can read minds, but what you re really doing is truly LISTENING.Because Alan Alda has such a warm, comfortable style I learned a lot from what in less capable hands could have been a very boring book It also might be due to the fact that Alda is an extremely effective communicator I have already started to put some of these games and exercises into practice and I believe they have already helped me in certain areas of my life If you are open, read WILLING TO BE CHANGED , then I highly recommend this book I borrowed this audiobook from my awesome public library Libraries RULE


  5. says:

    The greatest science communication failure of recent history occurred during breaking news coverage of the Higgs boson particle discovery At least, that s my opinion This particle, claimed to be the active ingredient in objects having mass, is a huge deal Yet, look at this gibberish news outlets threw at me as the leading quotation for the achievement We have observed a new boson with a mass of 125.3 plus or minus 0.6 GeV at 4.9 standard deviations No offense to Dr Joe Incandela, who made The greatest science communication failure of recent history occurred during breaking news coverage of the Higgs boson particle discovery At least, that s my opinion This particle, claimed to be the active ingredient in objects having mass, is a huge deal Yet, look at this gibberish news outlets threw at me as the leading quotation for the achievement We have observed a new boson with a mass of 125.3 plus or minus 0.6 GeV at 4.9 standard deviations No offense to Dr Joe Incandela, who made the above technical statement to a room full of scientists Following his words, the gathering bubbled over with applause, even tears in at least one case But the jargon was lost on me That day I refused to be impressed as a matter of principle Science had failed to explain itself.Such disconnects between scientists and the public comprise the impetus for Alan Alda s latest book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating Known to many for his acting career, Alda has dedicated much of his time to promoting better science communication Far from being a mere on camera spokesman, Alda works as a Visiting Professor at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.Using personal examples, as well as research, Alda makes the case for empathy as essential to good communication He couples this with insights regarding the Theory of Mind Think of empathy as the emotional connection, and Theory of Mind as the rational component Empathy, according to Alda, is a skill which can be developed and refined.Not surprisingly, Alda advocates cultivating empathy through theatrical improv a serious performance method, not merely a game driven attempt to get laughs Anyone who has taken an acting class with improv as a component, myself included, will find this to be self evident The same practiced skills which help actors connect onstage can help scientists connect with the public As Alda relates, this extends to medical doctors, business leaders, hopeful lovers, and parents mentoring children If I Understood Youstays on task via short chapters and focused, conversational prose It wraps up in a tidy 200 pages There is also an audio version, read by Alda, which I ll safely assume is highly enjoyable The result is a book calculated to be accessible, informative and thought provoking.Odd then that this book sometimes struggled to hold my interest If I Understood Youis full of nuggets nuggets of wisdom, hindsight, and profound experience Any chapter by itself can be a delight, and many were for me Yet, perhaps because of the testimonial nature, perhaps because of the copious repetition of its premise, the book sometimes felt like an after dinner conversation growing tiresome In no way am I panning it However, I do suggest readers avoid devouring the book quickly which I did so I could post my review asap.Given its levelheaded blend of entertainment with educational discourse, If I Understood Youdisqualifies itself from being Alda s most fun book yet It may however prove his most important, given the toxic level of animosity in current public discussion Therefore, I highly recommend reading it Come for the theory, but stay for the moments of sublime understanding


  6. says:

    I know Alan Alda for his acting career, especially in the tv series Mash one of my favorites , but this is the first time I read one of his books The subject is certainly interesting, especially in modern society where communication plays a leading role.An aspect I didn t know about the actor is his scientific curiosity, which led in hosting a tv show called Scientific American Frontiers for many years and to organize communication courses in all kinds of disciplines.In this book Alda clai I know Alan Alda for his acting career, especially in the tv series Mash one of my favorites , but this is the first time I read one of his books The subject is certainly interesting, especially in modern society where communication plays a leading role.An aspect I didn t know about the actor is his scientific curiosity, which led in hosting a tv show called Scientific American Frontiers for many years and to organize communication courses in all kinds of disciplines.In this book Alda claims his ideas on a communication based on empathy by exploiting his experience as an actor He illustrates the importance of convey an idea using body language, as well as words, but also paying attention to the reactions of the audience.In the various chapters, he explains his ideas and anecdotes that have led him to conceive them and the many steps are being taken to help people transmit their knowledgeefficiently, without causing boredom or confusion Such a procedure can be addressed to anyone in this condition professors with students, speakers with an audience, doctors on patients.Alan Alda is a wonderful storyteller and we learn what he teaches us by listening to facts he has witnessed, events he has organized, or experiments made by scientists in a totally autonomous way that have led to the same results.Reading the various experiments carried out by Alda and other people to achieve such a result scientists or other scholars , we often wonder whether it is really possible to reach the level described by the author I believe that many concepts are correct and can be easily applied in everyday life.A book that I recommend to everyone and cannot leave them indifferent After all, though it doesn t convince all, it can push us to knowand this is already a good start.A quote that stuck with me Ever tried Ever failed No matter Try again Fail again Fail better Samuel Becket


  7. says:

    As a scientist and author concerned about how we communicate with the general public, I was eager to read this book by revered actor Alan Alda The book reiterates and expands on a lecture I saw him give a few days ago Between the two I learned a lot about improving communication Alda mixes anecdotes and stories from his own experience, both as an actor M A S H, West Wing, movies, etc and his lifelong interest in science that led to him hosting Scientific American Frontiers for 11 years Re As a scientist and author concerned about how we communicate with the general public, I was eager to read this book by revered actor Alan Alda The book reiterates and expands on a lecture I saw him give a few days ago Between the two I learned a lot about improving communication Alda mixes anecdotes and stories from his own experience, both as an actor M A S H, West Wing, movies, etc and his lifelong interest in science that led to him hosting Scientific American Frontiers for 11 years Recently he helped establish the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where many of the techniques discussed in the book were developed and are currently used to teach communication skills to scientists.The first of two parts includes eleven chapters and primarily focuses on laying the groundwork for communication He emphasizes the importance of empathy and theory of mind The ten chapters in the second part delvedeeply into the scientific studies conducted to investigate the skill sets being taught Much of the training incorporates the concept of improvisation, or Improv This is a technique often used by actors andfamously by comedians to entertain without a script In this case, the technique is used to help scientists and others to learn how to read the person they are trying to communicate with Games such as the mirror exercise help participants learn empathy, a mutual understanding of the person you re speaking to.There is muchto the book than one might expect from an actor Alda has taken his goal of helping scientists communicate seriously, proposing and participating in studies to determine the best methods for teaching others He provides a strong scientific basis from the studies he describes and has worked with or interviewed professors and practitioners of these methods Based on my own experience it s part of the reason I left a scientific consulting career to pursue writing and expanding public knowledge of science and history , the book is both scientifically robust and entertaining to read While the focus is on helping scientists to better communicate, the lessons imparted will also be useful for all of us who wish to be better understood by and to better understand our fellow members of the public Alan Alda should be commended for his contributions in this much needed area


  8. says:

    I don t normally pick up books like this since I find that they tend to be too narrowly focused and rely too much on the author s fame to sell the book Not that I knew who the author was before picking this one up The title was also very off putting, but I needed a short filler book and seeing as I don t consider myself the best of communicators, I thought I d at least learn something That wasn t the case though I ve pretty much heard all the good advice before and the new things the author I don t normally pick up books like this since I find that they tend to be too narrowly focused and rely too much on the author s fame to sell the book Not that I knew who the author was before picking this one up The title was also very off putting, but I needed a short filler book and seeing as I don t consider myself the best of communicators, I thought I d at least learn something That wasn t the case though I ve pretty much heard all the good advice before and the new things the author brought up aren t actually very practical since improv classes aren t exactly around every corner.I did the audiobook version of this which was narrated by the author I actually enjoyed the narration quite a bit, especially since quite a lot of the content was told from a personal perspective Every chapter had at least one personal anecdote which made the otherwise dry content a lotengaging and relatable You can tell that the author cares about the topic in the way he got excited by the various revelations he described I also enjoyed the light humour in the writing which was sold very well by the author doing the narration.However, the reason this is getting only 2 stars is that it really didn t have enough practical advice the average person can put into practice There s a lot of discussion about groups of people that could benefit from improving their communication skills, but apart from the repetitive mentions of improv classes, the main advice was basically active listening and have empathy Despite being quite short, the repetitive use of the core ideas made it feel longer than it was Even so, as I m writing this a couple of days after I finished the book, I ve already forgotten most of the content I guess I got what I expected though and feel justified in my discrimination of these types of books As you ve probably guessed, this isn t a book I d be recommending to anyone except maybe people who have serious communication issues


  9. says:

    Fun to read, really interesting research and practical usable exercises that could help anyone Far better than anticipated.


  10. says:

    Good book about the importance of good communication and how to improve at communicating with others I m familiar with some of the research that Alda referenced from other books Alda seems to over emphasize his own ideas and under emphasizeresearched strategies such as reading literary fiction though he does mention it He spends too much time making fun of shakras and not enough time explaining the research on the effectiveness of meditation and a simple explanation of say, breathe Good book about the importance of good communication and how to improve at communicating with others I m familiar with some of the research that Alda referenced from other books Alda seems to over emphasize his own ideas and under emphasizeresearched strategies such as reading literary fiction though he does mention it He spends too much time making fun of shakras and not enough time explaining the research on the effectiveness of meditation and a simple explanation of say, breathe meditation Still, it is definitely useful to read, and thepeople that read it the better


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