(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge).
In my continuation of book-themed posts, here are three books (sometimes all you need is three) that get at the crux of our relations with other human beings. Whether it be romantic or platonic, familial or collegial, these three books will give you valuable insight and understanding of yourself in the context of your relations with others.
The Lost Art of Listening, by Michael P. Nicholas – We’ve all been there. You’re talking to a parent, sibling, lover, colleague, and you have the strong impression that what you’re saying just isn’t getting through to them. They hear the words, but are they listening? This very interesting and well-researched book digs into the sociological and psychological underpinnings surrounding interpersonal communications, and looks at how listening, or the lack thereof, is at the root causes of most relational issues. It asks the question, “What does it mean to actually listen to someone?” Also, it looks at what listening is NOT. The book delves into a variety of conversation scenarios, and analysis of how they usually end up playing out when both parties are not listening to each other, and how they could be better if both parties did a few key things to be good listeners. This is a book that you will want to buy and keep around the house, or the office.
How to Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh – Love. What’s in a word? A word that contains so much mystery, and yet can illicit a cornucopia of strong emotions and neurosis from people. One book in a five-part series on attaining and practicing mindfulness in one’s life, How to Love approaches the most mysterious of all human emotions from four key ideas: self-love love is essential to love others; to understand is to love; by understanding another person we are able to have compassion; true listening and loving language are ways of showing your love for someone. This book is written in a very clear prose that keeps the pages turning. It presents its message in a very clear, straightforward way, and with a bit of humor sprinkled in for good measure.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall B. Rosenberg – What if we’ve been going about it all wrong? That is, what if the way we’ve generally learned how to communicate with each other through our parents and culture actually does more harm than good in the vocabulary we choose and internal thoughts we experience about our communications? This book looks at how we can improve our relationships through thinking differently about our communication style and vocabulary. It asserts that much of what our culture has taught us over the centuries in how to communicate is actually harmful to peaceful relations with others, peace within ourselves, and can actually cause many unnecessary conflicts. The lessons and exercises in this book are so universally applicable to our interactions with others that they can be applied to communications within the home, on a date, or in the office.