top of page
  • Writer's pictureChristine Angelica

How to Know a Person: A Guide to the Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen


It was after some 10 years of watching David Brooks share political commentary on PBS's NewsHour that I began paying attention to him as a columnist and non-fiction author.

I'm sure it was while he was on one of his book tours that he came to my attention, and I feel like I've since come to know him deeply.

I disagree with him on many things, in particular, on the reasons why a certain peace deal fell apart, but David Brooks has a perspective that I value, even when I don't agree.

Through his books, the man seems on a mission to help us better understand ourselves. He draws from several disciplines including psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and history to help us do that.

He is also a mental health advocate, who, in his book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life candidly shared his experience with loneliness.

As you can imagine, I value and appreciate anyone who is helping to normalize mental health disorders. And in Brooks' case, helping us understand the ways that some experiences, such as periods of loneliness, can affect our emotional health and general well-being.

In his latest book, How to Know a Person, Brooks explores the skill that lies at the heart of any healthy relationship: the ability to see someone else deeply and make them feel seen.

Drawing from various disciplines and sources, Brooks offers a practical and hopeful approach to human connection, and shows how it can enrich our lives and heal our society.

Brooks argues that we humans are not very good at knowing others. We often rely on superficial impressions, stereotypes, and assumptions, and miss the complexity and uniqueness of each person.

We also tend to avoid or ignore those who are different from us, and create divisions and conflicts based on our differences.

As a result, we live in a world where many people feel invisible, unseen, misunderstood, and lonely.

How can we do better?

How can we look beyond the surface and see the depth and beauty of another person?

How can we listen with empathy and curiosity, and understand their perspective and feelings?

How can we communicate with honesty and respect, and express our appreciation and gratitude?

How can we create a space where both of us can be vulnerable and authentic, and share our stories and dreams?

These are some of the questions that Brooks addresses in his book, and he provides concrete and helpful suggestions on how to practice the art of knowing a person.

He also shares his own personal journey of learning to know others, and the insights and challenges he encountered along the way.

He illustrates his points with examples from history, literature, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and education, and shows how different fields and traditions have contributed to the understanding of human nature and relationships.

Brooks believes that knowing a person is not only beneficial for our personal and professional lives, but also for our collective well-being and future.

He argues that knowing a person is a way of bridging the gaps and healing the wounds that plague our society, and a way of fostering a culture of respect, compassion, and cooperation.

Brooks also tells us that knowing a person is a way of discovering ourselves, and a way of finding meaning and joy in our existence.

How to Know a Person is a book for anyone who wants to connect more deeply with others, and to be more fully known and seen. It is a book that challenges us to grow as individuals and as a community, and to embrace the diversity and richness of human experience.

It is a book that invites us to see the world with new eyes, and to celebrate the gift of knowing a person.


bottom of page