Listen Up or Lose Out



Book Title:    Listen Up or Lose Out: How to Avoid Miscommunication, Improve Relationships, and Get More Done Faster
Authors:  Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton
Publisher: AMACOM
List Price:   $19.95
Format:  Softcover, 272 pages
Publication Date:   2018
ISBN: 978-0-8144-3201-3
Reviewer: Linda Hughes Peterson, PMP
Review Date: May 2018



This book reminds the reader why listening is important and why effective listening is hard for most people.  The Boltons distill many years of research on listening into an interesting and readable book.  They describe the research in the field and provide concrete recommendations for implementing the techniques described in the book.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The first section of the book covers why it is important to improve our listening.  From improving team communication in business to building strong, supporting relationships with family, listening is a critical skill.  Companies with high-quality work relationships tend to perform better and listening is a critical skill for building work relationships.  Strong relationships within the family and with friends promote a sense of well-being and contributes to better heath.

Part 2 of the book covers the do’s and don’ts of great listening.  Using the traditional communication model, the authors discuss how ambiguous the English language is.  This ambiguity of meanings of common words can cause problems that are seldom discovered until the negative consequences of the miscommunication surface.  They also include a list of six common missteps in the listening process that cause problems when they are abused.  This section provides concrete guidelines for reducing these missteps that starts with targeting one misstep and then striving for improvement rather than expecting to eliminate it at once.  Several specific listening skills are also discussed with suggestions on how to implement these skills.

The third section discusses reflective listening and how it reduces miscommunication.  As part of the discussion, the authors discuss how to paraphrase what was said and to use pauses in the conversation to allow the person to say all they need to say about a topic.  An interesting observation on pauses is that the speaker owns the pause and the listener should not take control until the speaker indicates that they have completed their speech.

Part 4 addresses reading and reflecting other people’s feelings.  The authors discuss the importance of emotions related to work, relationships, and health.  They relate the ability to read a person’s body language to understanding a person’s feelings and how the ability to read body language improves communication.  The authors provide lists of words to help the listener recognize various emotions and the strength of the emotion as well as terms that can be used to reflect the speaker’s feelings.

The last section of the book discusses the use of summary reflections to capture the essence of a conversation to make sure that there is understanding between the two parties to the conversation.  It also discusses the results-focused listening process that can be used to resolve problems that have been discovered during the conversation. This approach allows the speaker and listener to explore the problem, to discuss what has been done so far, and to provide input about the solution if it is desired.


The book consolidates information from a variety of sources and presents it in a useful and logical order.  It explains why each technique is important and how to apply the technique.  There are examples that demonstrate the techniques.  The book emphasizes that improving listening is a process that takes time and practice.  It suggests that the first step in the process is recognizing communication errors after the fact.  As the practitioner continues to use the techniques, the recognition of the errors moves to the point where the error occurs.  Eventually, the new expert listener will recognize that they are about to make a mistake and stop themselves before they do it.


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About the Reviewer

Linda Hughes Peterson

Texas, USA



Linda Hughes Peterson, CDP, PMP has been an IT professional for over 40 years.  She is currently adjunct faculty at San Antonio College and Webster University (Lackland Air Force Base) teaching programming, operating systems, systems analysis and design, and project management to undergraduate and graduate students.  She is a member of PMI, AITP, and ACM and has been honored for outstanding teaching in an online environment.

Linda holds a BS Computer Science & Statistics (University of Delaware), MBA Technology Management (University of Phoenix) and ABD, Information Technology Management (Capella University).  Her professional certifications include Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Data Processor (CDP) and Graduate Certificate, Project Management, Webster University.  She can be contacted at [email protected] .


Editor’s note:  Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the Alamo PMI Chapter in San Antonio, Texas. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Alamo Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  PMI Alamo Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published.  PMI members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books.   

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