Practical Book Review One:
Why Don’t We Listen Better
Prof. Max Mills, M.Div, PH.D
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
In Partial Fulfillment
Of The Requirements For The Course
PACO 500 Introduction to Pastoral Counseling
Marcus A. Banks-Bey
February 12, 2012
Petersen, James C. 2011. Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating and Connecting in
Relationships. Portland, OR: Petersen Publications.
Petersen (2011) provides a practical guide for readers who are interested in increasing their ability to communicate amongst others in a multitude of settings which include but are not limited to business, familial, and romantic. Within this book, Petersen presents common, yet overseen communication errors which many individuals become conflicted with. With these common errors, Petersen then provides his view on how to overcome particular barriers which prohibit positive growth amongst those who seek to effectively communicate with one another. Petersen helps the reader understand that what results in a breakdown of communication is in part, due to the fact that the individuals involved in the process, fail to see the emotion behind what is being verbalized. This emotion however becomes translated as an attack, or defense to an attack which is perceived as one in the same thing (p.108).
The theories which Petersen has developed, thus presents as a means to introduce, and illustrate common communication pitfalls begins with the notion of what he calls “The Flat Brain Theory of Emotions” (p. 10). I translated this theory to be a means of understanding the common errors which take place when an individual’s combined thoughts, and emotions, fail to convey the message which they are attempting to impart upon whom they are communicating. The messages within the brain, get construed with the emotions which are give us sensations at the pit of our stomach, and our judgment becomes clouded by need to be felt, understood, affirmed, and acknowledged. Petersen however provides further information on how both the talker, and the listener are able to get their needs met, have an effective communication process, become solution focused, and ultimately build their relationship. To assist in this process, Petersen includes a patented Talker Listener Card which becomes a virtual third conversation member, or mediator which encourages both parties to be truthful, honest to the communication process, and goal oriented. Petersen states, “using the TLC forces us to observe the roles we play. Placing the card between us takes some of the heat out of discussing the difficult issues.” He continues further in saying, “This two pronged action makes it harder to get caught up in an argument.” If it is such that avoiding an argument is a portion of the communication goal, the Talker Listener Card assists by providing direction, and goals for both the talker and listener. The talker within the conversation is reminded that they are most bothered, and own the problem (p.65). The goals of the talker are to share feelings and, thoughts without accusing, attacking labeling, or judging. The other side of the card is for the listener’s focus, as it reminds the listener to remain calm enough to hear the talker, and the problem which the talker presents is not theirs to own. The listener should also seek to provide safety, understanding, and clarity without agreeing, disagreeing, advising, or defending themselves (p.67) The remainder of the book introduces various methods and scenarios which the Talker, Listener card would be applicable. Petersen also provides the reader with direction relating to listening techniques, and how to get beyond the many communication barriers which hinder the ability to build healthy relationships by effectively listening.
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