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One of the most important things for every sales or business professional to understand is the importance of communication skills. But as Anthony’s guest, award-winning actor, Alan Alda makes clear in this conversation, those skills are more than just skills – and they don’t come in the form of tips or steps. They are learned through diligent practice over time. This is a very enjoyable conversation with a much-loved man who continues to touch many lives through his company, Alda Communication Training. Anthony and Alan discuss some of the core subjects from his new book, “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face?” on this episode of In The Arena.

Alan Alda on The Importance of Communication Skills That Truly Serve Relationships - Ep 92Click To Tweet

People almost always misunderstand each other. ~ Alan Alda

One of the foundational truths everyone has to embrace if they are going to develop good communication skills is that everyone misunderstands everyone else, most of the time. Alan Alda says he’s discovered that fact through the course of his acting career and through the daily situations he finds himself in. Knowing that fact sets you up to understand the severity of the communication gap that exists between people and to seriously devote yourself to learning things like relating, empathy, compassion, and more. Alan has keen insight into the realm of effective communication and even has a few comments specifically aimed at sales professionals. You’ll enjoy this conversation.

Change comes through transformational experiences.

When Anthony asked Alan Alda about the way he goes about training people in the importance of communication skills, Alan said he’s often asked for some version of “3 Tips for Effective Communication.” But he says that’s like giving someone 3 tips for successful swimming – it doesn’t go very far in addressing the real need. A person who communicates effectively typically hasn’t learned communication skills from a book, they’ve learned how to communicate through transformational, and often relationally difficult experiences. Alan shares why becoming a great communicator is worth the pain and toil required, on this episode.

Change comes through transformational experiences ~ Alan AldaClick To Tweet

Why Alan Alda regrets that his new book is black words on white pages.

Books are wonderful things, storehouses of knowledge, wisdom, and learning that anyone can glean from at any time. But they aren’t the be-all-end-all of true personal change. That’s the point Alan Alda made on this episode when he told Anthony that he sometimes regrets that the content in his book is in printed form. He doesn’t want people who read it to misunderstand, to think that just because they read his book that they are automatically going to be better communicators. The importance of learning communication skills pales in comparison to the need to apply them, and make mistakes, and modify your approach, and apply them again. It’s a life-long learning process Alan challenges his readers to commit to. Learn why his book could be a turning point for your communication success, on this episode.

As a sales professional, you have to be passionate about giving people what they need.

Every salesperson has heard it said that true sales is about meeting the needs of people. Alan Alda takes it a step further and says that good salespeople care so much about the people they are trying to close a deal with that they are passionate about enabling them to see that they (the salesperson) have the solution. Said more simply, you have to be convinced that your prospect truly needs what you have to the point you’re passionate about them seeing it too. The insights Alan shares on this episode of In The Arena are priceless, so be sure you take the time to listen.

As a sales professional, U have to be passionate about giving people what they needClick To Tweet

Outline of this great episode

  • Anthony’s excitement about Alan’s new book and why he’s on the show.
  • The experience of a young man who was on stage in front of America daily.
  • Alan’s central premise: Everyone misunderstands everyone else.
  • What is “relating” with other people and why do we avoid it?
  • The importance of responsive listening and why it can’t be mechanical.
  • How can we read the emotions of others? What is empathy?
  • Alan’s practices to maintain his personal health (voice and mind).
  • The work Alan is doing around the safety and controls over Artificial Intelligence.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode


The theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on Soundcloud

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People almost always misunderstand each other. ~ Alan AldaClick To Tweet
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Podcast editing and show notes - www.PodcastFastTrack.com

Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 4, 2017

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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