How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen | by David Brooks
While I don’t especially love the title of this new book by David Brooks, I do appreciate his insightful books, especially The Road to Character and The Second Mountain. I find that they offer a different perspective and practical ideas on mid-to-later life.
In How to Know a Person, Brooks continues sharing the research and experiences underpinning his journey of reflection and personal growth. This book focuses on honing the ability to truly see and understand others as a key building block for healthy relationships, meaningful connection and community, all of which are key elements in a satissfying life in retirement. Brooks sees this ability as an important skill that can be developed and cultivated over time. Brooks starts with power of observing others carefully, and explores the value of empathy, deep listening, vulnerability and the art of meaningful conversation. He also has a take on wisdom. In his view it’s not about knowledge – it’s “about knowing about people.”
The core idea I’m taking away from How to Know a Person is a choice that Brooks poses: Are you an Illuminator or a Diminisher?
He explains that Illuminators are genuinely curious about others and know how to ask the right questions at the right time. They know how to read people. They bring out the best in people up amplify their strengths, including ones that they may not fully see in themselves. In contrast, Diminishers are self-absorbed and make other people feel small. I think this is an important choice to consider and can have a big impact on your relationships, interactions and satisfaction in life. This book offers useful ” how-to” ideas on understanding others better and enhancing your skills in building deeper relationships.
In 2024, let’s strive to be Illuminators – and minimize the time we spend with Diminishers (the in-person ones and the virtual ones).
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