If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?
My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and CommunicatingLarge Print - 2017
"Invaluable."--Deborah Tannen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of You're the Only One I Can Tell and You Just Don't Understand
Alan Alda has been on a decades-long journey to discover new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another more effectively. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? is the warm, witty, and informative chronicle of how Alda found inspiration in everything from cutting-edge science to classic acting methods. His search began when he was host of PBS's Scientific American Frontiers, where he interviewed thousands of scientists and developed a knack for helping them communicate complex ideas in ways a wide audience could understand--and Alda wondered if those techniques held a clue to better communication for the rest of us.
In his wry and wise voice, Alda reflects on moments of miscommunication in his own life, when an absence of understanding resulted in problems both big and small. He guides us through his discoveries, showing how communication can be improved through learning to relate to the other person: listening with our eyes, looking for clues in another's face, using the power of a compelling story, avoiding jargon, and reading another person so well that you become "in sync" with them, and know what they are thinking and feeling--especially when you're talking about the hard stuff.
Drawing on improvisation training, theater, and storytelling techniques from a life of acting, and with insights from recent scientific studies, Alda describes ways we can build empathy, nurture our innate mind-reading abilities, and improve the way we relate and talk with others. Exploring empathy-boosting games and exercises, If I Understood You is a funny, thought-provoking guide that can be used by all of us, in every aspect of our lives--with our friends, lovers, and families, with our doctors, in business settings, and beyond.
"Alda uses his trademark humor and a well-honed ability to get to the point, to help us all learn how to leverage the better communicator inside each of us."-- Forbes
"Alda, with his laudable curiosity, has learned something you and I can use right now."--Charlie Rose
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Isn’t communication really essential to science? Can you really do science without communication? Will science be funded if the funders can’t understand what they’re supposed to be funding? Will young people choose to study science if they don’t hear from scientists themselves how exciting it is?
TAs, as they’re called, are graduate students who are assigned the task of teaching a course to undergraduates. Typically, they know their material extremely well, but they have little or no experience in communicating what they know. This can defeat one of the reasons for having them teach undergraduates in the first place: the hope that they’ll give their students such a fascinating view of biology or physics that undergraduates will be inspired to study those subjects themselves. Too often, though, the undergraduates are scared away by boredom and the frustrating sense that they just don’t get it and never will.
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