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IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU, WOULD I HAVE THIS LOOK ON MY FACE?

I am an avid reader. From leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship to great novels, I devour new books constantly.  As the Executive Director of the Center for Leadership and Innovation at UMBC Training Centers and the creator and Program Director for UMBC’s Masters in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Leadership, I thought it would be valuable to share some of the insights I’ve gained along the way. That’s what the Thought Bubble series is all about.

I take something away from every book I finish. I am often provided with significant learning as I engage with new concepts and my current thinking is challenged. When I encounter a like-minded thinker, the author validates my own philosophies, and I enjoy the community of the Collective Genius(another fantastic read). Sometimes my thinking is validated. On occasion, I am simply at odds with the author. At all times, I learn.

The big takeaway from Alan Alda’s cleverly titled book is the emphasis on empathic listening as necessary for clear communication. Most well-known for his time spent on the TV series M*A*S*H*, Alda draws on his life experiences and concludes that empathy is key to communicating effectively.

According to Alda, Cognitive Empathy (or emotional resonance) “helps us know whether the other person is at ease with us. Our sense of what they’re feeling is based on what we’re feeling, because… most connections are mutual.” Empathy requires that we talk less and listen more, listen to connect, and seek to understand before being understood.

Alda suggests that listening effectively requires that we keep our ears, eyes, and feelings wide open. It is not enough to simply hear words, instead we must see the body language and feel the emotion of the dialogue to gain full understanding. Alda takes the reader through several examples of research that leverages improvisation to improve communication; many of the examples would be fun and simple to integrate as team development exercises.

If you communicate with others in your work (so, essentially, everyone reading this), you will find If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating to be a valuable read.


MEET GIB MASON.

As executive director of the Center for Leadership and Innovation, Gib works directly with senior executives in a variety of industries, from construction to wealth management. He brings over three decades of experience in organizational stewardship and cultural development and has an extensive history of helping companies drive rapid growth and instill winning cultures. Gib will be a regular contributor in our new blog series on IT Modernization.

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