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“I consider Bob Burg to be without a doubt, one of the world's leading experts on networking.”

~ Dr. Ivan Misner, NY Times Bestselling Author and Founder of BNI

There Will Be Some Tethering. Huh?

November 2nd, 2017 by Bob Burg

Alan Alda bookImagine sitting in your dentist’s chair, the sharp end of a blade hovering just above your face, mere inches away from making contact. At that moment you hear the dentist utter the following five words: “There will be some tethering.”

The patient — wondering as to any potential relationship between said sharp instrument and his mouth — nervously asks what he means by “tethering.” The dentist is curt, impatient, and both his words and mannerisms hardly reassuring. (“Tethering, tethering!”) Well, that explains it. Thank you.

This turns out to cause an effect that will make it very difficult from this time on for the patient to smile — whether spontaneously or on cue — without it looking like a sneer.

For most of us, this would simply be annoying. For a professional actor it could be disastrous.

This is what happened many years ago to seven-time Emmy-winning actor, writer, and director Alan Alda, and it became the catalyst for his deep scientific search to better understand the process of effective communication.

In his new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? — My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating, Mr. Alda demonstrates not only that this study and research worked for him, but also how much it has benefitted countless others, including many whom we simply do not think of as great communicators … such as scientists.

Yes, scientists, those men and women who must be able to communicate to the rest of us non-scientists the significance of some of the most important aspects of our universe.*

Mr. Alda, who helped found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York, writes, “The key, the fundamental ingredient without which real communication can’t happen [is] developing empathy and learning to recognize what the other person is thinking…In acting we call it relating.”… [and] “relating is everything.”

Wait a minute. Did that passage really equate empathy with “recognizing what the other person is thinking”? Isn’t that like reading someone’s mind? But I often say that because we all operate from different belief systems, we can’t really know what the other person is thinking, thus, we can’t read minds. Right?

Or am I wrong? Read the book and find out. You might just have your belief system expanded!

Oh, and just in case you can’t read my mind…I highly recommend reading this book. It’s a Masters Degree in Communication.


*Would probably also help tethering-oriented dentists to more effectively communicate with their patients.

6 Responses to “There Will Be Some Tethering. Huh?”
  1. Michele Gorden said at 7:35 am on

    This sounds like a must read for me. After spenfing 31 years plus in denistry and still counting, it is very important to know how to communicate well and have a two way street on sensing and reading emotions. Most of what is communicated in denistry is either behind a mask or behind the patients head! So yes, I must get this book to be a better me!

  2. Bob Burg said at 7:58 am on

    Michele, I’ve known you for a long time. You are one of the kindest, warmest, most empathetic people I know and any patient in a dentist’s chair would be extremely well-served with you there. Personally, I’ve always been very fortunate to have dentists and their associates who were kind, empathetic, and always made me feel comfortable…and heard. Keep up the great work, my friend. The world needs more Micheles! Regards to you, the amazing Robert, and your awesome daughters!

  3. Helen Diehl said at 8:54 am on

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

  4. Bob Burg said at 9:39 am on

    My pleasure, Helen. Enjoy!

  5. Corey said at 7:19 am on

    I’m excited to read Alan’s book! Thanks for the recommendation. As you so eloquently pointed out, what we know is insignificant if we cannot effectively communicate what we know. As a health care professional I have long been fascinated by the medical community’s term “noncompliance” which implies “failure to understand the importance of this course of treatment” to be the patient’s fault. Once we put the responsibility where it belongs and own that, we improve patient outcomes exponentially!!

  6. Bob Burg said at 7:47 am on

    Corey, thank you for your feedback and for sharing such profound wisdom with us. You are certainly one of the most amazing and effective communicators I know. One reason is that you are continually studying (as well as teaching) this topic. Again, many thanks!

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