An effective way to connect with people is to learn how to listen better. Books teaching practical listening skills are a good place to start. We talk about one in today's episode.

Hello everyone and welcome to episode 105.

I have a question for you today. If you want to connect with people to form meaningful relationships with them, where do you start?

Today’s episode will answer this question by showing one way you can begin to develop deeper relationships with people. Keep listening to learn how.

I can tell you one way that doesn’t work is to try connecting with others by talking. By offering your commentary on whatever you see, hear, or think about it. By filling the airwaves with the sound of your voice. And by talking at people, rather than talking with them.

A far more effective way to connect with people is to listen to them. The apostle James had it right when he said, “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” Too many of us do just the opposite, we’re quick to speak, and we’re slow to listen.

So if listening to people is an effective way to connect with them, how do we do that? How do we learn to listen better?

Learn how through reading

One way is to read books on the subject. The problem though is there isn’t a lot of books written on listening. There are many books on communication, but almost universally they’re about the talking part of communication. How to get your point across, how to negotiate, how to have difficult conversations with people. Talk, talk, talk. And more talk.

Even my favorite singer, Marcel Marceau, tried to get in the act with his book on how to communicate better with your speaking. It was a very short book, and the sales just weren’t there. Stick to your day job, Marcel.

However, I was surprised a while back when I saw a new book that had come out on how to listen better. So I bought it, read it, and found it useful. Today I want to tell you about the book and why I recommend you read it.

I think you’d do yourself a favor by reading it because it answers the question, how do I get started in connecting with people in order to form meaningful relationships with them?

The name of the book is I Hear You – The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships, by Michael S. Sorensen. I’ll have a link to it in the show notes.

The Author
  • Michael S. Sorensen is a marketing executive. Not a therapist, trainer or life coach. His book is about what he learned from his therapist, trainer, and life coach
  • Single guy when he wrote the book
  • © 2017
Who the book is for
  • People who don’t read very much. It’s an easy to read book
  • Those who want to be a better listener. Who want to improve their skill level
  • Who feel they’re not connecting with people
  • Those prone to give advice and fix problems
  • People willing to try something new to deepen their relationship
  • Managers or co-workers

The book is not for people who are already good listeners, who easily connect with people. If people are coming to you and confiding in you with their hurts or problems, you don’t need this book. It’s also not for academics or professional counselors.

Structure of the Book
  • 139 pages. Bibliography/Endnotes of 8 sources
  • Besides the introduction and afterword, the book has 10 brief chapters divided into 3 sections.
  • “My goal has been to make this book a quick read; something you can blaze through in a weekend and revisit as needed., p. 12”

At the end of each chapter is a summary. You could read just these short summaries and get the gist of the book. It’s like the Cliffs Notes of the book

Premise of the book

We will have significant and sustainable relationships to the extent we listen well to people. Listening well starts with resisting the urge to give advice and fix problems for people, and ends with affirming the feelings of people who talk to us. That’s it in a nutshell.

Take-aways from the book
  • The author talks a lot about “validation,” which is his way of describing affirming the emotion expressed by someone to you. It’s really integral to active listening and empathy. To this, Sorensen adds it’s important for the listener to acknowledge justification for feeling that emotion.
    e.g, “You seem really upset over what she said to you; I’d be upset, too, if she said that to me.”
  • The book is consistent with the O.R.A. principle of deepening relationships we’ve been talking about on this podcast. Observe – Remember – Ask. The book is a heavy dose of “Observe.”
  • One of the strengths of the book is how he treats invalidating responses, things like, “you’ll be fine, it could be worse, at least, don’t worry; things will work out
  • He gives examples of validating what someone is feeling even though you disagree with the other person’s interpretation of an event
  • The author shares ideas of how to develop empathy, the first one is “Get curious.” We had two episodes on this subject:

062: Vaccine Now Available for this Relational Virus
063: Six Reason Why We’re not More Curious About People, and What We’re Missing as a Result

Why It’s Worth Reading
  • It’s a “How-to” book. It gives examples of how to put the premise of the book into practice
  • He also shares examples of what not to do, for example, never say to someone, “I know exactly how you feel.”
  • It’s an easy and fast read
  • Practical, not technical. Lot’s of examples to illustrate his points
  • It’s a first step for those who want to deepen their relationships by becoming better listeners
  • The author mentions good listening is a skill, and like any skill needs to be practiced and repeated. It’s in keeping with what we talked about in episodes 11-14 on the four levels of relationship skills. I’ll have links to these episodes in the show notes.
Amazon Reviews of the Book
  • About 1600 reviews, 4.5 out of 5-star rating
  • Most people raved about the book for its simplicity and practicality
  • There were many, this book changed my life it was so good reviews
  • Also, a few the book was boring reviews
  • The negative reviews were either about the book was poorly bound and pages out of order – or – it was simplistic, and the author repeated himself. It could have been a book even shorter than it was.
So what does all this mean for YOU?

How can you use what you’ve heard today to improve the relationships in YOUR life? Here are a few ideas:

Start by reading the book. Get it from your library or buy a copy. If it resonates with you, put in to practice what the author suggests.

If that goes well, ask a few people if they’d like to go through the book as a group. Form a little book club. Practice the principles mentioned in the book as a group. It would be a great summer read.

If you lead a group of people in your job, church, or organization, read the book as a group and discuss it. It would be a great way for the people you lead to learn how to care for each other by learning how to listen better.

I used to help train counselors at a lay counseling class at our church, and had this book been around at the time I would have used it: I Hear You – The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships, by Michael S. Sorensen

If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.

Our best chance for developing meaningful connections with people is to learn how to listen better. The book we’ve been discussing, I Hear You, is a good place to start.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to I may share them in a future episode unless you say otherwise. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.


I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week. Now go out and get the book. Goodbye for now.

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Resource mentioned in today’s show

I Hear You – The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships, by Michael S. Sorensen

Related episodes you may want to listen to

011 Relationship Skills – Level 1
012 Relationship Skills – Level 2
013 Relationship Skills – Level 3
014 Relationship Skills – Level 4