If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? By Alan Alda: Book Review
Yes, that Alan Alda. Hawkeye. M*A*S*H.
When this book landed on the review desk at JAQUO HQ my immediate thought was ‘Alan Alda – must be well worth reading’. Then I saw the tag line under the title – My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communication. Hmm. Well…
But then I remembered the great title – If I Understood You Would I Have This Look on My Face? Yes, I decided, this would be worth reading and oh boy, was I right!
This is a truly fascinating book and the first surprise was the fact that communication has been a serious interest for the actor for many years. But maybe it’s not so surprising because that’s exactly what an actor does – communicates. But this book, which is brilliantly written and makes even the more tricky concepts easy to understand, is invaluable for anyone, no matter what their walk of life.
The chances are strong that whoever we are, we can encounter difficulties in understanding others and being understood. Do we truly relate to people as well as we could?
- Do you understand your partner? Could your relationship be improved if communications were enhanced?
- If you’re a doctor, can you relate well to your patients?
- Can parents find an easier way to communicate with their children?
- Can business people and salespersons become more successful using the techniques in this book?
- Teachers, do your students relate well to you? Do you to them?
- Writers – can you really empathise with your readers and understand what they are looking for from you? A
- And of course, bearing in mind the author, can you become a better actor by improving your communication skills?
- Plus, we’re asked the tantalising question – can we learn to read minds?
This book isn’t only full of practical advice, case studies and easy-to-read data – it also is full of memorable quotes. My favourite – right now – is ‘The trouble with a lecture is that it answers questions that haven’t been asked‘.
Think about that. Do you lecture your teenagers about why they should be home before midnight? When you’re berating your partner for not doing the dishes, are you lecturing him/her? Yes, this book applies to everyone in any walk of life, not just teachers, scientists, doctors and business people – the ones who we tend to think about when we consider lectures.
For some reason, this book made me think of Prince Charles who, many years ago, wrote about his concern for our planet and the environment. He could have quoted many statistics and obscure figures about the damage we are doing to our world. In fact, he may have done but all I remember from his book is the following quote regarding conservation.
I don’t want to be confronted by my future grandchild and have them say ‘Why didn’t you do something?
This was quite a few years ago but I remember the quote well. It relates. It communicates the point without rhetoric or statistics. It’s a sentence that everyone can understand. It says so much in one sentence. Has the future king of England ever met Alan Alda and discovered his techniques? It seems so!
Truly though, I highly recommend this book to everyone. We might believe that we are wonderful communicators, or that we relate to other people.
Or we might feel that ‘at our age’ we ‘know it all’ and have nothing to learn about relationships and communication. (By the way, Alan Alda was born in 1936.) I’d love you to read this book and see how it can improve your life in so many ways.
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