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Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection

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For many of us, listening is simply something we do on autopilot. We hear just enough of what others say to get our work done, maintain friendships, and be polite with our neighbors. But we miss crucial opportunities to go deeper--to give and receive honest feedback, to make connections that will endure for the long haul, and to discover who people truly are at their core. For many of us, listening is simply something we do on autopilot. We hear just enough of what others say to get our work done, maintain friendships, and be polite with our neighbors. But we miss crucial opportunities to go deeper--to give and receive honest feedback, to make connections that will endure for the long haul, and to discover who people truly are at their core. Fortunately, listening can be improved--and Ximena Vengoechea can show you how. In Listen Like You Mean It, she offers a listening guide with tried-and-true strategies honed in her own research sessions and drawn from interviews with marriage counselors, podcast hosts, life coaches, journalists, filmmakers, and other listening experts. Through Vengoechea's set of scripts, key questions, exercises, and illustrations, you'll learn to: Quickly build rapport with strangers Ask the right questions to deepen a conversation Pause at the right time to encourage vulnerability Navigate a conversation that's gone off the rails.


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For many of us, listening is simply something we do on autopilot. We hear just enough of what others say to get our work done, maintain friendships, and be polite with our neighbors. But we miss crucial opportunities to go deeper--to give and receive honest feedback, to make connections that will endure for the long haul, and to discover who people truly are at their core. For many of us, listening is simply something we do on autopilot. We hear just enough of what others say to get our work done, maintain friendships, and be polite with our neighbors. But we miss crucial opportunities to go deeper--to give and receive honest feedback, to make connections that will endure for the long haul, and to discover who people truly are at their core. Fortunately, listening can be improved--and Ximena Vengoechea can show you how. In Listen Like You Mean It, she offers a listening guide with tried-and-true strategies honed in her own research sessions and drawn from interviews with marriage counselors, podcast hosts, life coaches, journalists, filmmakers, and other listening experts. Through Vengoechea's set of scripts, key questions, exercises, and illustrations, you'll learn to: Quickly build rapport with strangers Ask the right questions to deepen a conversation Pause at the right time to encourage vulnerability Navigate a conversation that's gone off the rails.

30 review for Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vikram Goyal

    "Conversation by conversation you can discover in others emotions, hopes, fears, dreams and anxieties that make each of us unique. You can know others as they truly are, not as you assume they are or wish them to be and in turn they can get to know the real you too. When we listen with empathy we raise the bar for our conversations and relationships and inspire others to do the same." Listen Like You Mean It — A book that will provide you with the roadmap to becoming a better listener. It i "Conversation by conversation you can discover in others emotions, hopes, fears, dreams and anxieties that make each of us unique. You can know others as they truly are, not as you assume they are or wish them to be and in turn they can get to know the real you too. When we listen with empathy we raise the bar for our conversations and relationships and inspire others to do the same." Listen Like You Mean It — A book that will provide you with the roadmap to becoming a better listener. It is written by Ximena Vengoechea. She is a user researcher who she has spent nearly a decade facilitating hundreds of conversations at LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. The author lays out a detailed action plan on getting started with empathetic listening and navigating the challenges associated with it. Richly interspersed with stories from the author’s life, its easy to relate every topic with your personal experiences. The book is extremely comprehensive and has touched upon all aspects of empathetic listening. Some of the topics that the book addresses include: 1. cultivating a listening mindset 2. Staying present in the conversation and not getting distracted 3. Going beyond words and listening to non verbal cues 4. Deepening conversation through better questions 5. Getting comfortable with silence during conversations 6. Exiting conversations when they are taking a toll on you 7. Having difficult conversations in certain relationships 8. Having conversations around sensitive topics I have compiled my detailed notes here: https://baos.pub/listen-like-you-mean... This is a highly recommended read for anyone looking to level up their listening skills in order to develop stronger relationships and become more effective in life & work!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Swisher Ray

    Some practical approaches to better listening that may be helpful for newer professionals in fields where listening is a fundamental skill. Overall, I found “You’re Not Listening” by Kate Murphy a little more successful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wellington

    This book has some great advice on listening. It gives some great tips to steer conversations and protecting the listener from going arrears. This would have come been more helpful before a big family fathering we had last month which got ugly and will live in infamy in family lore for a long time. I kept reading thi book through a lens of how that night evening could have been better handled.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pallu

    The book offers words and strategies to learn how to be an empathetic listener. While it is written for listening primarily for a research setting, there are a lot of communication strategies that can be used with friends and family.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Snorre Lothar von Gohren Edwin

    Interesting book but it is very much related to ux research which might be a nice angle on this. But it did not hit me 100%. But I did learn stuff!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Loved this book!! Every interaction, even chance encounters with strangers, is an opportunity for genuine and authentic connection. With empathetic listening, all your relationships can become deeper and more fulfilling as you make the people around you feel seen and valued (and they in turn can do the same for you). Tons of wisdom in this book. I think everyone can become a better listener, and even if you know the content it’s an amazing opportunity for self-reflection. How can you improve you Loved this book!! Every interaction, even chance encounters with strangers, is an opportunity for genuine and authentic connection. With empathetic listening, all your relationships can become deeper and more fulfilling as you make the people around you feel seen and valued (and they in turn can do the same for you). Tons of wisdom in this book. I think everyone can become a better listener, and even if you know the content it’s an amazing opportunity for self-reflection. How can you improve your interactions with those around you? Little things - reading nonverbal cues, giving nonverbal cues, changing your thought process toward interactions, learning when to switch up your approach - can make a huge difference. Life is all about meaningful and authentic connection with others… listen like you mean it!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sorrowka

    More like an introduction to counseling psychology textbook. It consists what i learn from the textbook and 7cups value, such as emphathy, humility, and curiousity. yes indeed! curiousity is required a lot when listening to others, even if it's beyond your scope. but asking won't hurt, I asked about tech and coding tho I don't understand nor remember much about it. but it's showing that i was engaged to the topic he brought. and listening type such as investigator, explorer, or explainer. in here t More like an introduction to counseling psychology textbook. It consists what i learn from the textbook and 7cups value, such as emphathy, humility, and curiousity. yes indeed! curiousity is required a lot when listening to others, even if it's beyond your scope. but asking won't hurt, I asked about tech and coding tho I don't understand nor remember much about it. but it's showing that i was engaged to the topic he brought. and listening type such as investigator, explorer, or explainer. in here they use the term of probing questions as "connecting questions", which how you dig and deepen the conversation you have. Especially in case that person is reluctant to disclose, or merely being crude. ------------------------------------- If you would like to advance in practical way, you may want to read Just Listen by Goulston

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    read as about to listen to Ximena in alumni gathering at my university. And also as want to learn to have better listening skills in conversations with my family and friends. Empathetic listening is about connection. Deliberately slow things down and seek to understand others’ – relate to them. Listen for what is said (literal), what is meant (subtext), what is felt (emotion). Bring empathy, humility and curiosity Through EMPATHY understand and relate to participants, appreciate their excitement, read as about to listen to Ximena in alumni gathering at my university. And also as want to learn to have better listening skills in conversations with my family and friends. Empathetic listening is about connection. Deliberately slow things down and seek to understand others’ – relate to them. Listen for what is said (literal), what is meant (subtext), what is felt (emotion). Bring empathy, humility and curiosity Through EMPATHY understand and relate to participants, appreciate their excitement, sense their frustrations, empathize with others feelings of stress, disappointment, achievement without making the conversation about me. Don’t give advice or share a similar story, instead gain a deeper understanding and ask more informed questions. Ask questions specific to them and give them the floor to share more. It’s not about you. Tap into their emotions. HUMILITY: assume you don’t know all the answers. Let them share how they really feel. Be the student not the expert. Humility does not require you to reduce your point of view, but it does require you to do the very hard work of trying to understand others’ perspectives. Don’t react prematurely. Let others express their opinion. Let go of preconceived notions. Leave judgment at the door. Accept and respect others’ perspective. CURIOSITY: Be there to learn more about the topic, idea, person. Get along with a variety of people, being interested more important than being interesting. “tell me more” is an invitation to connect, to speaker to feel valued. Interesting learning about the Engagement Zone: Watch feet, one may progressively turn toward the exit disinterested and ready to leave. If the person’s feet are pointed toward you they are receptive to a conversation, interested, committed. We naturally orient ourselves toward what we are interested in. Listen like you mean it!!!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This is the best book I've read (so far) on true, meaningful listening. It's less fluffy than your average business book, and I'm planning to hold onto a copy. I can't give it an unqualified recommendation for everyone though, without a few caveats. Issue #1: This is a useful book as a refresher for people who are already trying to really understand what their conversation partners are saying, but they'll already be familiar with a lot of what this book covers. For people in that category, it's a This is the best book I've read (so far) on true, meaningful listening. It's less fluffy than your average business book, and I'm planning to hold onto a copy. I can't give it an unqualified recommendation for everyone though, without a few caveats. Issue #1: This is a useful book as a refresher for people who are already trying to really understand what their conversation partners are saying, but they'll already be familiar with a lot of what this book covers. For people in that category, it's a good reference. For people who don't spend time obsessing over the question "what did he mean when he said that??", I think this book might feel like a cynical list of ways to *pretend* that you're listening, which is not what it's trying to be. (The tips at the end of each section on things to say in conversation come to mind as a good example. It's very difficult to capture engaged listening with a cookie cutter set of phrases.) In other words, not sure if this book can teach anyone to want to be a good listener. (I read this book as an audiobook by the author, which helped most of it come across as sincerely as it was likely intended.) Issue #2: This book is very contextualized to an American, urban, professional office (and maybe even more specifically Silicon Valley) culture. The scenarios and suggested phrases are going to feel hollow outside of that culture, and even within that culture they'll look fake, if they're applied like a recipe.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jung

    It isn’t always easy to establish deep, warm connections in our conversations with others. That’s because when we listen, we tend to do so on a superficial level, hearing our conversation partner’s literal words but missing their underlying meaning. To make others feel heard and understood, we should practice empathetic listening. This requires us to stay present, observe our conversation partner’s needs, ask connecting questions, stay flexible – and, sometimes, redirect the conversation when we It isn’t always easy to establish deep, warm connections in our conversations with others. That’s because when we listen, we tend to do so on a superficial level, hearing our conversation partner’s literal words but missing their underlying meaning. To make others feel heard and understood, we should practice empathetic listening. This requires us to stay present, observe our conversation partner’s needs, ask connecting questions, stay flexible – and, sometimes, redirect the conversation when we sense that things are heading the wrong way. Actionable advice:  Train your ear. The next time you have a conversation, pay close attention to the unique characteristics of the other person’s voice. Try to get a sense of that voice’s neutral baseline by paying attention to things like pitch –⁠ is the person’s voice naturally high or low? –⁠ and expressiveness –⁠ does the person tend to be more animated, or speak in a monotone? Once you’ve established the baseline, you’ll be able to tell more easily when the person is deviating from it, and why that might be the case.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nguyen Thi Van Anh

    "Real" listening is in demand! The idea of the book is not new, so I give it a 3. Anyway, it's an easy read with a clear outline and real-life examples, though some advice the author gives sounds a bit cliché and often easier to say than done. The key takeaway from the book is that it isn't always easy to establish deep, warm connections in our conversations with others. That's because when we listen, we tend to do so on a superficial level, hearing our conversation partner's literal words but mi "Real" listening is in demand! The idea of the book is not new, so I give it a 3. Anyway, it's an easy read with a clear outline and real-life examples, though some advice the author gives sounds a bit cliché and often easier to say than done. The key takeaway from the book is that it isn't always easy to establish deep, warm connections in our conversations with others. That's because when we listen, we tend to do so on a superficial level, hearing our conversation partner's literal words but missing their underlying meaning. To make others feel heard and understood, we should practice empathetic listening. This requires us to stay present, observe our conversation partner's needs, ask connecting questions, stay flexible - and sometimes, redirect the conversation when we sense that things are heading the wrong way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I’m not convinced that this book is a practical tool for ordinary conversations. Many of the techniques suggested by Vengoechea are impractical for casual conversations and, I think, will only make your friends and family ask you why you’re talking so weird. Additionally, the section about evaluating voice pitch and volume as well as fidgeting or eye contact as signs of confidence and discomfort came off as a little sexist and ableist. Vengoechea tried to mitigate that by explaining getting a ba I’m not convinced that this book is a practical tool for ordinary conversations. Many of the techniques suggested by Vengoechea are impractical for casual conversations and, I think, will only make your friends and family ask you why you’re talking so weird. Additionally, the section about evaluating voice pitch and volume as well as fidgeting or eye contact as signs of confidence and discomfort came off as a little sexist and ableist. Vengoechea tried to mitigate that by explaining getting a baseline for a person before reading too deeply into them, seeing a chart where a low voice is “authoritative and dominant” and a high voice is “unserious and submissive” was very unsettling. I did find value in some of the exercises, but overall I don’t recommend this book unless you’re prepared to take most of it with a huge grain of salt.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Harrison Dempsey

    Loved this book. On one hand, it's hard to read a book about listening and connection without feeling like you're a robot being taught how to act like a human. On the other, how often do we think about listening and how to improve at it? I'd guess not a lot, and I think there's a lot to gain if we did. This book is a how-to guide for how to think about listening, how to practice empathetic listening, how to use different styles to suit the situation, how to have difficult conversations, and, rea Loved this book. On one hand, it's hard to read a book about listening and connection without feeling like you're a robot being taught how to act like a human. On the other, how often do we think about listening and how to improve at it? I'd guess not a lot, and I think there's a lot to gain if we did. This book is a how-to guide for how to think about listening, how to practice empathetic listening, how to use different styles to suit the situation, how to have difficult conversations, and, really importantly, how to listen "sustainably" (how to balance energy and manage "listener's drain"). I found it really interesting, surprisingly useful, and I think it should be required reading for all managers or anyone considering a step into management.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anu

    Written by a user researcher, the examples in the story are particularly relatable if you are in the tech industry. Certainly useful even if you’re not. An area I personally struggle with, is to listen to people with poorly analysed opinions, obviously incorrect information or dogmatic beliefs without giving away my impatience on my face. Judgmental much? Yeah, probably. The book does a good job of showing how to use curiosity to be present and listening, even in situations like those above. It Written by a user researcher, the examples in the story are particularly relatable if you are in the tech industry. Certainly useful even if you’re not. An area I personally struggle with, is to listen to people with poorly analysed opinions, obviously incorrect information or dogmatic beliefs without giving away my impatience on my face. Judgmental much? Yeah, probably. The book does a good job of showing how to use curiosity to be present and listening, even in situations like those above. It also serves a good dose of humility by illustrating how empathetic listening can change your own perspective, especially in situations of power differences.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Ruth Boe

    My main takeaway from this book is to just generally be more intentional about how I listen to others. To think about what they need from me and not assume what I'd want in a situation or that my instinct is actually what they need. Read their body language. Ask them what they need from you. Don't start questions with "is" or in any way that presumes the answer or sets up expectations; be open-ended. Silences/pauses can be powerful for giving space to the other person. Don't worry about mentally My main takeaway from this book is to just generally be more intentional about how I listen to others. To think about what they need from me and not assume what I'd want in a situation or that my instinct is actually what they need. Read their body language. Ask them what they need from you. Don't start questions with "is" or in any way that presumes the answer or sets up expectations; be open-ended. Silences/pauses can be powerful for giving space to the other person. Don't worry about mentally logging or taking notes to the point that you aren't present in a conversation. Trust that the important points will come back to you--an especially hard one for me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    I took the challenge of listening to a book about listening and I’m so glad I did. The author explains the different styles of listening, provides questions to ask to keep conversations going and also to interrogate yourself. I appreciated the activities that explicitly called out the reader to get a pen and paper. The largest takeaway was not only how to listen to others but how to listen to yourself and the ways to cope when you’ve listened to much or you just need to digest a conversation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Diane Henry

    Disappointing but not bad. The author works heavily with corporate clients and the examples and terminology are heavy with corporate tech-speak. I assume a “direct report” is an employee one is a manager for? Though this book is for listening in general, the overwhelming majority of sample situations are business-world oriented and are specific to that setting. I had hoped for more specific to the real world examples.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I have been trying to improve my listening approach for a couple of years and this is one of the most useful tools I've discovered. Practical and easy/fun to read. Easily bounces between examples for both work and home. Useful scripts and practices. An unexpectedly moving and inspirational final chapter that really brought home how listening is key to connection. I have been trying to improve my listening approach for a couple of years and this is one of the most useful tools I've discovered. Practical and easy/fun to read. Easily bounces between examples for both work and home. Useful scripts and practices. An unexpectedly moving and inspirational final chapter that really brought home how listening is key to connection.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Empathetic listening is an art, and maybe that's what made this so hard for me to read. The techniques prescribed were nothing novel and the proper execution was not clear cut as every situation requires a different approach. My biggest takeaway is to remember my biases and trying to remove them from my responses. Empathetic listening is an art, and maybe that's what made this so hard for me to read. The techniques prescribed were nothing novel and the proper execution was not clear cut as every situation requires a different approach. My biggest takeaway is to remember my biases and trying to remove them from my responses.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Åsmund Heir

    About connecting with people in a research setting or in other relations. Tips to take care of yourself to take care of others. Good reminders of body and voice cues to understand emotions. Useful that it points out default listening modes that we often fall into, like problem-solving mode, that makes us lose the connection with others. A bit longer than necessary.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Whitaker

    A neat idea -- a Silicon Valley user experience researcher gives lessons about how to understand and connect with people. I liked the beginning but the tips got so numerous and basic by the end that it was hard to stay engaged.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nhi

    I'm not an easy reader but this one is worth reading :)) Highly recommend reading together with Body language, another book I have rated 4⭐️. It helps improve your listening skill, communication skill and after that, EQ as a result. I'm not an easy reader but this one is worth reading :)) Highly recommend reading together with Body language, another book I have rated 4⭐️. It helps improve your listening skill, communication skill and after that, EQ as a result.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris Germain

    The book had some solid chapters that were helpful but also some chapters that weren’t. I don’t like books with long chapters. This book has long chapters. Felt like overall this book could’ve been shortened and edited a little more and it would’ve been much better.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This isn’t the book I was expecting. It started off strong, but the author’s intense focus on her research and her interactions with participants didn’t feel super relatable. There are some really helpful nuggets, especially towards the end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caylin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It was a very inspirational book, and i found a lot of joy in reading this. I feel like this book was a good pick. I was shopping for my sister and I stumbled across this book, I picked it up thinking it would be book that wouldn't bring as much interest to it as i thought. But overall a 4/5 book. It was a very inspirational book, and i found a lot of joy in reading this. I feel like this book was a good pick. I was shopping for my sister and I stumbled across this book, I picked it up thinking it would be book that wouldn't bring as much interest to it as i thought. But overall a 4/5 book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jann Nnn

    Very practical and a great reminder. I can hear peers/friends say this is logical and That they already do it etc etc. In reality it’s hard to do in the moment. There is an art to this and the writer has given thoughtful starter phrases for readers to build on.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vaibhav Puranik

    I did learn new things from this book such as listening fatigue empathetic listening etc. Overall it's a descent book that made me aware that listening is essentially connecting with people. I did learn new things from this book such as listening fatigue empathetic listening etc. Overall it's a descent book that made me aware that listening is essentially connecting with people.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Nicola

    I didn't connect with this one right away but it started to make a lot of sense the more I read. Worthwhile read. I didn't connect with this one right away but it started to make a lot of sense the more I read. Worthwhile read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aminur Rahman

    Mean it

  30. 4 out of 5

    Priyanka Sinha

    Even if you feel you are a great listener.. read this book!

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