I love that Alan Alda has settled nicely into his role as America’s Grandpa. This book is filled with that down-to-earth wisdom, here on the subject of communication itself.
The book is surprisingly fact and science dense (or perhaps not, for those who are familiar with his “Flame Challenge,” the contest he started to explain basic science in a way that 11 year olds could understand, judged by those same 11 year olds) but conversational and accessible. Which, again, might be expected of a book on the science of communication, but I still am bitter about the college communications course that I took where we were tested on material that was never presented, so let’s not take for granted that communication is a skill not necessarily present in those teaching it. (Fun anecdote about that course – the teacher gave us all cutouts of the continents and asked us to arrange them as they would be on a globe, in order to demonstrate bias expecting us all to put them with north facing up, however, THEY WERE LABELED WITH THE LETTERS ONLY READABLE WITH NORTH BEING UP. Sigh. Bitter.)
Also, Alda doesn’t spare himself in his tales of poor communication, nor does he just outline problems, he proposes solutions to communication difficulties, which makes for a refreshing book. The burden of understanding should not be on the taught alone, but the teachers as well; open communication requires a willingness to compromise on both sides.
Basically, if you like Alda or pop science, you’ll likely enjoy this book.