Soundview Executive Book Summaries

A Banned Business Book?

Believe it or not, this story appears to be true.

I came across this article on PR Newswire about a business book that was recently banned in prisons throughout the state of Texas. The book, Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster, and Win More Business, was deemed to be subversive because it could be used to persuade others. The ban led to an intellectual debate on the need to ban books in prisons and whether or not a simple business book should be subject to these rules. I’ve always found the banning of books to be a strange practice in general, but as one commentator in the above article suggests, prison populations are subject to different rules than those of general society.

What’s interesting about the banned book is that it deals with the use of storytelling as a means of persuasion. We’ve covered a few books on communication over the years and each offers a different take on how to get through to others. Recently, we returned to this subject when we selected author Mark Goulston’s Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone for a summary. Unlike Elements of Persuasion, Goulston’s book teaches readers the power of listening as a means of persuasion. This logic takes a technique (listening) that is generally deemed passive and demonstrates how it is actively used to achieve goals.

One of Goulston’s best segments is on talking an angry person from an irrational state to a state of receptivity. Now there’s a technique which might work well in the prison system. Maybe authorities in Texas should put Just Listen on their library lists.


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