Friday, June 23, 2017

Alan Alda on the Secrets to Better Communication

From Entrepreneur magazine:

The fact that he’s a famous actor is probably the least fascinating thing about Alan Alda these days. A likable and inquisitive guy, Alda spent 11 years interviewing scientists for the documentary show Scientific American Frontiers.

The experience of trying to understand brilliant minds doing important work inspired him to partner with Stony Brook University to establish the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, which teaches scientists strategies for conveying their ideas to laypeople.

It also inspired him to launch a deeper investigation into how people -- scientists, teachers, businesspeople, dentists and so on -- communicate. The fruit of that research is his surprisingly useful new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating.

Entrepreneur: I was surprised to learn you used to work in sales.

Alan Alda: Yeah. I had to do something as a young actor to support my family. And I didn’t get it at first. I thought of selling as manipulating people, because that’s how I had been sold, and I really resented that.

But I eventually figured out that focusing on the other person’s needs and not my own was the most effective way to make a sale. Later I came across this guy Daniel Goleman, who had written pretty much the same thing.

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