Considering the overall message of Ask: How to Relate to Anyone, Daniel R. Solin could have easily named his book Listen. Fortunately, the former attorney and financial advisor (now life coach) covers both topics in his well-written, straightforward ode to letting others have their say.
Setting the stage for what’s to come, Solin poses the question, “Could improving relationships be as simple as talking less while empowering the other person to talk more?” The conclusion: absolutely.
Ask is divided into five parts, starting with why we should listen to others rather than dominate a conversation. Chapter titles include: “Is It All about You?”; “What to Ask?”; and “Can You Overcome the Negative?” Each chapter ends with a short statement summing up the content. Solin offers an extensive bibliography at book’s end.
Solin posits that it’s by listening to others that we truly connect, a result far more important than being “right” or one-upping others. This mindful act works, he asserts, because it boosts the other person’s feel-good chemicals, prompting them to open up to us.
The author’s easy to read narrative includes how-to tips, such as “Enter into conversations and situations with a curious mindset” or, “If you’re asked a question…briefly respond and then ask a related question.”
While much of this advice is common to books on personal communication, the author cites plentiful studies that are particularly interesting and relatable. For instance, a Microsoft study found that our average attention span is one second less than that of a goldfish. Another study noted that the average person only retains about 25% of what’s being said. Standout chapters address curiosity, empathy, and the difference in relating to introverts and extroverts.
It would have been helpful had Solin addressed the issue of one-sided, dysfunctional relationships that can drain us emotionally. Nevertheless, in a world clambering with endless noise and jibber-jabber, Ask makes a rock-solid case for the power of simply keeping our mouths shut.