The Blurb On The Back:
Become an amazing conversationalist.
Are your conversations so controlled they lack the ability to connect with other people? Do you find yourself holding back for fear of revealing too much or saying the wrong thing? What can you do to make your conversations more real?
Tap into your intuition and speak from the heart.
Drawing on the expertise of bestselling author and communication expert, Judy Apps, The Art of Communication shows how to develop the ability to become a nuanced conversationalist – one who connects with others and is more fearless, more genuine, more engaging and more creative. The author reveals how to communication in a meaningful way and:
– Build closer relationships and create intimacy
– Overcome the artificiality and awkwardness of your interactions
– Converse successfully with people of different backgrounds
– Get more rewarding results from your conversations
– Operate from your intuition rather than with self-consciousness and control
The Art of Communication builds your confidence so you can converse from a place where being counts more than conventional skills, and an open heart brings connection and rewards you could only dream of before.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Judy Apps is a communications expert and personal coach. In this book she sets out techniques and suggestions for improving your communications skills to form genuine connections with people by encouraging you to move away from controlled conversational norms and rely on your intuition. The spiritual and new age techniques won’t be for everyone (and some weren’t for me) but I did get some good ideas, which I’ve put into practice.
The driving thrust of this book is that people try too hard to control their conversations, e.g. by preparing topics of conversation, which means that they don’t really interact with or listen to what the other person is saying and so never form a real connection with them. Apps’s techniques and methods are all quite spiritual in nature and hang on letting go, getting in touch with who you are and so letting go of your hang ups such as being worried about coming across as foolish to become more spontaneous and in tune with yourself. In some ways, therefore, this isn’t so much a book about conversation so much as a book about learning who you are and how to be true to yourself in your dealings with others. I don’t personally have a problem with that as a concept but it does suggest that the key to good conversation is essentially having confidence in yourself and I think the publishers missed a trick in emphasising that on the back cover.
Apps dwells a lot on the differences between left-hemisphere brain thinking and right-hemisphere brain thinking but there’s still a lot of research being done on this area and she doesn’t cite much scientific research for the conclusions she reaches (which is one of my personal bug bears). I’m also not much of a person for poetry, so her constant references to Rumi (which includes having quotations from his work at the top of each chapter) jarred for me. She also goes on about spiritual techniques from yoga, tai chi and aikido and while I’m not denying that they have a part to play through their focus on breathing and being aware and in the moment, that kind of thing just isn’t my jam at all. Finally, I did wish that Apps had moved away from the focus on self-reflection to give some tips on how to have conversations with people who don’t want to open up or have a connection. The book kinda assumes that everyone wants to enter every conversation looking for something meaningful, which isn’t always the case and given this is supposedly a book about conversation, I was looking for something to help deal with people who are not easy to talk to, either because they’re defensive or aggressive, or closed off – Apps’s techniques all focus on you yourself, which doesn’t always help in a situation like that.
That said, I did take some things away from the book, such as allowing myself to be more vulnerable, not focusing so much on needing to fill awkward silences and being a better listener so as to understand what the other person is saying rather than thinking about my own response.
As with a lot of books of this type, you get from it what you’re willing to put in. If you are a spiritual person focused on wellness, mindfulness and open to things like breathing techniques, then I suspect this type of book would do very well for you. If, like me, you’re a natural control freak and skeptic, then you have to work against your own preconceptions in order to get something from it.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.