Saturday, September 23, 2017


ISBN #: 978-0812989144
Page Count: 213
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: June 6, 2017

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Mandy's Review:

I don't usually agree to read non-fiction books because I often find them boring. The only reason I agreed to read this one is because of the author. I remember watching M*A*S*H with my grandfather. Hawkeye, played by Alan Alda, was one of my favorite characters in the television series. I knew he portrayed his character with sarcasm, humor, and wit so I was curious to see how he wrote his books.

If I Understood You is an interesting read. Alan explains how simple improvisational exercises can help a person become more empathetic and a better communicator. The 'Mirror' exercise teaches two people to become so aware of each other that their actions become simultaneous. The 'Yes, And' exercise, my favorite exercise of the book, teaches you to take what a person gives you and add to it. The exercises, and there are more than just the two I mentioned, are simple yet challenging. It is a little difficult to believe they produce such amazing results, but I guess one won't know until one actually tries them.

Towards the end of the book, I felt like the same point was being repeated in different formats. The first 3/4 of the book was informative, thought-provoking, and insightful. I can see where these scientifically-proven improvisational exercises can help a wide range of individuals, from corporate executives to salespeople to teachers to two people in a relationship. I plan on trying some of these exercises with my husband to see if they'll make us more in sync and better communicators.

If you enjoy learning new methods of becoming a better person and communicator, I would recommend this book. I would especially recommend this book to you entrepreneurial types who have just started your own business. If you think you'd like to try it but don't have the time, don't fear. The book is less than 200 pages (minus the Acknowledgements and Index) so it reads quickly. Enjoy!

*A hard copy was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

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