Understanding Other People Review
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Managing a staff of fifteen employees was the most difficult position I ever held—much more demanding than any technical job that I performed. People have their pasts, values, filters, and behavioral styles that they bring to the workplace. Of course, I never considered that I had mine, also. At the time, I just wished that I had a resource like Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior.

It’s not too late for me, though. Corporate consultant Beverly Flaxington provides an approach for communicating better—not only in the workplace but also in personal relationships.

She dedicates each chapter of Understanding Other People to one of the five “secrets,” or factors, of successful communication, and she ends each one with a step by step “What To Do?” list on how to practice and implement each secret.

  
 
The first secret states that, in order to better communicate and understand others, we must become less egocentric. Be forewarned: though this is probably the most important secret, it drags on, and I actually became angry, since I found it difficult to remain focused. In fact, as I read, I tried to put holes in her theory.

As I continued, though, my resistance lessened, and, by the middle of the second chapter, I realized that the book presented valuable ideas that I could incorporate into my daily life. Yes, some seemed obvious, but Flaxington presented them in such a way that she really made me think. For example, she shows how to recognize the behavioral styles of people and then how to try to mirror that style.

It’s more difficult, but still important, to be able to recognize other people’s values. While hiring staff, I wish I would have taken into consideration that employees are more productive and display better morale if their values are compatible with those of the company. Even though, on a personal level, we’re always told that we can’t change one’s values, being aware of them will reveal why people make the decisions that they do. If you incorporate their values into the decision-making process, not only will it help to solve the problem at hand, but you will tend to get along better. This is one example of how the book uses concrete solutions to help with communication.

That’s right; it’s not all theory. Flaxington gives concrete recommendations, in addition to the “What to do?” section. For example, if you’re angry with someone, instead of acting immediately, she recommends letting the feelings settle for three days. If you’re still feeling as strongly, then act; otherwise, let it go.

At fewer than 100 pages, this guide is packed with so much valuable information. However, Understanding Other People isn’t a book that you read once and then put on the shelf to collect dust. As Ms. Flaxington stresses, the most powerful people are those who understand themselves better than others do. If we recognize what we are doing in our communication, we can better understand others. Therefore, this is a learning process, and it takes time to master. Since effective communication skills affect everyone, I can’t think of one single person who couldn’t benefit from Understanding Other People.

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