What woman of a certain age doesn’t remember Hawkeye Pierce?
But you might be surprised to learn that Alan Alda is now doing cutting edge research on communication. He’s written a new book on his findings: If I Understood You, Would I Have this Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating (Random House; June 6, 2017.
Alda focused much of his research on improv and its effect on communication. This form of acting intrigues and terrifies me. I’m not sure I’d ever be brave enough to try it, but Alda’s conclusions are fascinating.
When you read the book, don’t miss Alda’s comments on the loading of the dishwasher (pages 80-81). Turns out how one loads dishes is a cause of conflict in many marriages. Doesn’t surprise me. I have a friend whose husband gets so upset he reloads the dishes she has loaded.
Two of my favorite takeaway quotes from the book:
- “The person who is communicating something is responsible for how well the other person follows him. If I try to explain something and you don’t follow me, it’s not simply your job to catch up. It’s my job to slow down.”
- “Being truly connected to the other person happens when we see them in a way that’s both emotional and rational, especially if we include listening with our eyes: looking for clues in the face, in gestures–in all the non-verbal states of mind. It’s complete and total listening.”
Here’s what the publisher writes about If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face:
Alda is an acclaimed actor, star of M*A*S*H, writer, and director, whose many years of interviewing guests on PBS’ Scientific America80-81n Frontiers led him on a quest to develop ways to help us learn how to communicate better. In his new book, Alda reflects on moments of miscommunication in his own life, and teaches us ways to build empathy, use improv games, storytelling, develop a mind-reading ability, and more, all in an effort to improve the way we relate and talk to others.
With his trademark humor and frankness, Alda digs into the heart of what it means to be a true communicator: being able to read another person so well, you know what they’re thinking and feeling and are able to be in sync with them. Alda has seen this kind of engagement facilitate real communication in a wide range of settings: within families, between lovers, at the office, between doctors and patients, and between scientists and the rest of us.
Giveaway: The publisher is offering a copy of the book to one Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by August 20. Thanks!
Alan Alda has earned international recognition as an actor, writer, and director. He has won seven Emmy Awards, received three Tony nominations, is an inductee of the Television Hall of Fame, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator. Alda played Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series M*A*S*H, and his films include Crimes and Misdemeanors, Everyone Says I Love You, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Bridge of Spies, and many more. Alda is an active member of the science community, having hosted the award-winning series Scientific American Frontiers for eleven years and founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Alda is the author of two bestselling books, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned and Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself.