Book Review – Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently

I have now forgotten where I saw the reference to “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” by John Maxwell, but it intrigued me enough that I downloaded a copy to my Kindle and I read it over a number of weeks in tiny bite sized chunks on the bus to work in the morning.

I hated reading this book, every chapter was a real struggle to get through.  If I had read the Amazon reviews first I probably wouldn’t have bought it, but that’s the downside of buying straight from the Kindle and not checking out a book properly before clicking on the Buy button.

So why do I dislike this book so much?  It’s the style of writing, which is far too American for my taste.  An Amazon reviewer sums it up far better than I can with “way too much unnecessary verbiage, name dropping and the authors self serving “aren’t I clever” prose and anecdotes masked by occassional and thinly veiled self deprecation” (full review).  I also thought this was going to be a business book and was therefore put off by nearly all the anecdotes being in relation to the author’s work as a pastor, for someone who is not religious it was too much.

However I persevered with the book because it does contain some useful material buried within it.  I don’t think there was anything in Part – Connecting Principles that I didn’t already know. That’s not being big-headed, just because I know doesn’t mean I am putting it into practice, however simple things such as body language being important was not news to me.  Part 2 on Connecting Practice is probably more interesting.  The chapter on connecting through common ground is interesting, reminding us not to take for granted what we think others know and feel.  Also the chapter on making connecting an enjoyable experience made me think, there is a lot of work for me to put in to make legal research training more enjoyable!

One aspect of this book I really do like is the summary at the end of each chapter, there are each split into connecting with an individual, connecting with a group and connecting with an audience. These summaries are probably the most useful part of the book.

My dislike of this book is a purely personal reaction to its”self-help” style, if it suits you then don’t be put off and give it a go but maybe borrow it from the library or buy second-hand as I am not convinced it’s worth the price.

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Law at the Open University LearningSpace

These days the enquiries that come to the library from fee-earners are the really tricky ones that they can’t answer with a quick dip into Westlaw or PLC and an up to date knowledge of law and business is really helpful for library staff are to tackle these.  It’s a long while since I studied law (an HNC in legal studies at Glasgow College of Commerce in 2002) so I felt in need of a refresher, but without the time commitment or cost of a law degree.

I remembered reading something in an Open University alumini magazine about free course from the OU so went digging around on their website and found the OpenLearn LearningSpace which is crammed full of interesting looking courses, all free and online.

So far I have restricted myself to the Law section and started with “An Introduction to Law in Contemporary Scotland“; I read through this unit very quickly in a lot less than the recommended 10 hours. I don’t think I learnt anything new from this unit but it was certainly a useful reminder.  Next I looked at “Europe and the Law“; again I have studied this before but things have changed since then with new countries joining up and all the hoo ha over the Constitution.  I found this unit to be a useful refresher on the legislative procedure in the European Union and also ordered the recent developments in my mind.

My intention is to work through all the Law units which have relevance to the work my firm does. I then plan to study some of the units in the Business and Management and Computing and ICT sections which should be useful for soft skills and also some new knowledge on the financial sector.

I have asked the assistant librarian to also take a little time each week to study the relevant units and brush up her knowledge too.

And as for me, well I’m addicted to studying. I’ve had a wee break since the last time I was with the OU so who knows where this may lead ….