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Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All Hardcover – 1 Mar 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio (Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591844622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844624
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Bernard T. Ferrari is the chairman and founder of Ferrari Consultancy and a twenty-year veteran of McKinsey & Co. as a leader of its North American Corporate Finance and Strategy Practice and the firm's Health Care Practice. Prior to his career with McKinsey, he was a surgeon and chief operating officer of the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain suggests that there is much of value to be learned from those who are primarily introverted by nature and/or preference. For example, when engaged in conversation, they listen intently and purposefully to what another person has to say. In this book, Bernard T. Ferrari explains how to master "the most critical business skill of all," one that I believe is also the most critical social skill of all. "The key to good listening is to develop a filing system in our heads, and to ask questions that get those folders and cabinets adequately filled." Ferrari devotes a separate chapter to each of the following categories of situations in which feedback is obtained:

o Get to the mandate: Focus on the question to answer, the problem to solve, etc.
o Understand the plan: How to get from A to B (small picture) and from A to Z (Big Picture)
o Know who is on the team: Who will do what by when? With whom?
o Be aware of how you are executing: What is working, what isn't, and why?
o Be mindful of the personal: Take defining characteristics of each source into full account.

I agree with Ferrari that in a business setting good listening is a critically important (albeit strenuous) activity, one that must be purposeful, under control, with total focus and engagement, and most active at the front end of decision making. As for poor listeners, Ferrari identifies and discusses six familiar types: the Opinionator (often wrong, never in doubt), the Grouch (everyone else is wrong), the Preambler (wind bag filled with digressions), the Perseverator (self-serving blah blah blah), the Answer Man/Woman (hair-trigger problem solver), and the Pretender (really could not care less).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent book full of insights based on the authors experience
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa1913624) out of 5 stars 26 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa199a6a8) out of 5 stars How and why the difference between great and mediocre managers is the ability to listen 4 April 2012
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain suggests that there is much of value to be learned from those who are primarily introverted by nature and/or preference. For example, when engaged in conversation, they listen intently and purposefully to what another person has to say. In this book, Bernard T. Ferrari explains how to master "the most critical business skill of all," one that I believe is also the most critical social skill of all. "The key to good listening is to develop a filing system in our heads, and to ask questions that get those folders and cabinets adequately filled." Ferrari devotes a separate chapter to each of the following categories of situations in which feedback is obtained:

o Get to the mandate: Focus on the question to answer, the problem to solve, etc.
o Understand the plan: How to get from A to B (small picture) and from A to Z (Big Picture)
o Know who is on the team: Who will do what by when? With whom?
o Be aware of how you are executing: What is working, what isn't, and why?
o Be mindful of the personal: Take defining characteristics of each source into full account.

I agree with Ferrari that in a business setting good listening is a critically important (albeit strenuous) activity, one that must be purposeful, under control, with total focus and engagement, and most active at the front end of decision making. As for poor listeners, Ferrari identifies and discusses six familiar types: the Opinionator (often wrong, never in doubt), the Grouch (everyone else is wrong), the Preambler (wind bag filled with digressions), the Perseverator (self-serving blah blah blah), the Answer Man/Woman (hair-trigger problem solver), and the Pretender (really could not care less). It is difficult to respect those such as these six who have no respect for you or for anyone else. This is a key point, given the much greater need now for collaboration than at any prior time that I can remember.

For me, the greatest value of this book lies in how skillfully Ferrari poses clusters of questions (in Chapters 4 and 7-11), to accomplish two separate but interdependent and immensely important purposes: To sharpen the inquiry skills of his reader (i.e. how to learn what needs to be known), and, to provide a context within which his reader can apply those skills. For example, in Chapter 4 ("How to Keep Quiet - Most of the Time"), Ferrari explains why, whenever possible, he avoids interrupting another person but when appropriate, "any interruptions or responses I make as questions. If I disagree with a statement, I'll package my disagreement in a probing question." In advance of discussion of key issues, he formulates a few questions that he may need "to guide the conversation into areas that will be more useful for me and CP."

Note: CP refers to "conversation partner," the person with whom one is speaking. The term is significant. Whereas a listener is a recipient (sometimes a target), a partner is a collaborator in a process to increase each participant's understanding.

Ferrari brilliantly achieves his stated objectives: To review the common pitfalls in conversation and explain how to avoid or correct them; to explain the basic principles of "Power Listening" and the basic tools needed to possess and apply it; and explain also how to develop techniques "for harnessing what you hear in service of a leaner and better-informed decision-making process." The techniques he discusses in Sections Two and Three can be adopted by almost anyone who is determined to become a Power Listener and is well along in mastering the skills discussed in Section One.

These techniques include being fully aware of everything "that their idiosyncratic filing system already contains or needs to contain; also they "rapidly shuffle and recombine any or all of the stored information, constantly adding to the options and alternatives available for consideration." I presume to add that the "idiosyncratic filing system" to which Ferrari refers must be managed as a work in progress, one to which updated information is constantly added and from which outdated information is systematically removed. The quality and value of each judgment are determined by the quality and value of the information on which it is based.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19ea4c8) out of 5 stars Readable. How helpful? Depends 3 July 2014
By ServantofGod - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
To give potential readers a brief idea of the author's advice, I would like to quote from the conclusion chapter his suggested list of things to begin doing on Monday morning.
1. Keep quiet
2. Challenge assumptions
3. Focus on what you need to know
4. Increase your tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty
5. Sort incoming information into the appropriate file drawers and folders (reducing noise and panic caused by information overload)
6. Work your memory to gain insights
7. Know when to pull the trigger (listening with purpose and with focus)
8. Demonstrate the best listening practices to lift everyone's game

Perhaps I had read a lot of books on communication and I know well the importance of listening. I dont have the same high level of appreciation as the many other reviewers did. Indeed, I would like to recommend to potential readers' the following: "Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston" and "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John C. Maxwell". IMHO, they are relatively compleat and helpful.

p.s. I would like to share with you my favorite passage in this book.
The truly good listeners, like Sherlock Holmes, never lose their ability to be surprised....A really great listener embraces the unexpected, even actively seeks it out....The U.S. Secretary of State traditionally keeps a counselor on staff, one of those primary functions is to directly challenge his or her assumptions, so that the secretary has to consciously reevaluate his or her positions, either to make sure they hold up, or to discover their hidden flaws. pg56
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3b2eb1c) out of 5 stars Theory made concrete 14 July 2012
By Michael P. Maslanka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The book is nice and short with a minimum amount of useless throat clearing. The chapter on how to decide if you need to interrupt what someone is telling you is excellent, with a useful series of questions to ask yourself:do I need clarification;do I need to parse an issue to focus on a certain aspect;is there a counter argument we should discuss now. Throughout the book, he teaches us the power of a question, whether at a mortality and morbidity conference at a hospital(the author was once a surgeon) or when developing a mandate(ie mission statement) for your company. His big idea:you already know what you think, presume that you will learn something you did not know if you listen to others and presume positive intent from them. Take a read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19eaed0) out of 5 stars Wonderful book - very practical advice 12 July 2012
By Jim Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
To actively and empathetically listen is critical in any important interpersonal situation; social or professional. We are so busy today that this kind of listening is becoming a lost art. Bernie has brilliantly outlined in very practical terms how each of us can become a better listener. He gives numerous examples and illustrates helpful techniques to improve listening skills. He also points out the pitfalls that hinder us from being effective listeners and partners. This book is a must for anyone who wants to be a better listener.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19ee09c) out of 5 stars A worthy addition to your business skills library 30 Sept. 2013
By Mark Goulston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I wrote the book, "Just Listen," and was excited and not disappointed to read Power Listening. If you want to be more successful in your professional and personal life you would do well to read this book. Bernie's background from surgeon to lawyer to businessman to consultant stands him and this book in good stead as a terrific reference if you want to improve your communication skills. His sections on: "Listen Up!" and "Sorting the Chaos" are terrific ways to orient and then focus yourself to get the most out of your relationships, one conversation at a time. I highly recommend, "Power Listening."
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