Book Reviews

Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior by Beverly Flaxington

[From Author Page on Amazon]: “Beverly Flaxington is a two-time bestselling and Gold-award winning author. She is a successful corporate consultant, a behavioral expert, a college professor, a hypnotherapist and an executive coach.”

All this experience shows in her book.

I loved this book. I really, honestly, enjoyed every minute of it. I didn’t want to put it down, it was that good. It was easy to read and understand – even for people who don’t have an extensive academic background (my own background is in psychology, so I found this book particularly interesting). Still, it is not your average self-help book. It’s way more useful and relevant than most self-help books on the market (I’m not saying that there aren’t some already out there that are great – this one was just so much better, IMHO).

Inside, you will find tips on dealing with “difficult” people and an understanding of why there really aren’t any difficult people. There are just people who seem difficult to us because they don’t share our values or frames of reference.

You will also find something not many people are talking about these days in our “ME! ME! ME!” society: Take the focus off yourself and put it onto other people. We’ve all heard it since childhood – the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31, NIV). But how many of us actually live it? Think about it. We want what we want, and if you don’t agree with us, you’re just wrong. Oh, yeah, and you’d better change your mind, or else we won’t talk to you anymore.

In sales, this can be particularly true because, after all, if the salesman (or woman) doesn’t make the sale, he/she doesn’t get the commission and/or could lose his/her job. Of course they put the focus on themselves rather than on what the customer needs. But this mentality, Flaxington points out, could actually hurt sales – not help them.

I’ll never forget the time I walked into a jewelry store with DH while we were still dating (just to look – we weren’t buying anything. We both just really like to look at jewelry). And there was this high-pressure salesman there who kept trying to talk DH into buying something. Finally, I got so frustrated with this guy, I said, “Look. He doesn’t have a job. He doesn’t have any money. We’re not buying anything. We’re just looking.” The salesman’s response? “Well, there’s always credit.” !!!! I ran out of the store at that moment, dragging DH with me.

If that salesman had actually been listening to me, he might have talked me into letting DH sign up for a credit card (or not, but he at least wouldn’t have cost that store a customer for life). If I had been looking at it from the salesman’s point of view (I need to make this sale, or I don’t eat tomorrow – or whatever), I would’ve been much more patient and wouldn’t have stormed out of the store looking like an idiot. You see how one little perspective shift on both of our parts could have made the whole exchange much more pleasant for everyone?

People will buy from you if they like you. And they will like you if they feel like you actually care about them and are listening to their needs. I did not like that high pressure jewelry salesman, and I was not about to buy something from him (and I haven’t been back to that store yet, more than five years later). This is not to say that we should get all sociopathic and just manipulate people into thinking we care about them when we really don’t. No. We need to work on striking a balance between focusing on what we want (or need) and what the person with whom we are communicating needs (or wants). It’s called compromise, and it would serve everyone well to practice it a little bit more.


There’s something for everyone in this book (not just salesmen). People – all people, everywhere – want to be understood and valued. And, really, we all need that. We just don’t get it very often. If you want to improve your communication (whether in a business setting, personal relationship, whatever), you need to buy this book and remember the take home point: It’s NOT all about you! Or me, or any one of us as individuals. It’s about working together to make sure we have the best possible interpersonal relationships.

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