Why Don't We Listen Better? Book Review

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Practical Book Review: Why Don’t We Listen Better? By James C. Peterson Angelia Godette
Liberty University
HSER 508

Practical Book Review: Why Don’t We Listen Better? By James C. Petersen
Listening is a very complicated skill that many people do not posses. It requires individuals to reflect and to admit to their flaws. In order to communicate effectively it is important to know when to talk and listen. Peterson’s book is an excellent tool to enhance all types of relationships. SUMMARIZE!

Petersen, J. C. (2007). Why don’t we listen better? Communicating and connecting in relationships. Tigard, OR: Petersen Publications.

Peterson’s uses a variety of situation and scenarios to support a theory called the “flat brain theory of emotion.” Basically the author theorizes that emotion, both positive and negative, delay communication thus shaping relationships. According to Peterson we communicate using our stomach, heart, and brain. Each one affects the ability to recognize what is really happening during communication. He gives examples of how emotions outweighing each other and how they affect our vision, responses, and how we listen. To understand “flat brain syndrome” he compares unhealthy communication to a courtroom scenario. Courtroom dialogue is very defensive and attack like in nature, each party trying to win. Peterson believes that if are able to properly express our emotions without attacking and listen without becoming defensive it will benefit us in any relationship.

Peterson also uses this theory to explain why individuals’ martial, professional, and family issues are never resolved. To listen to each better Peterson discuss a method called TLC (talker, listener card). He describes the role of the talker and the listener and tips on how to improve in them both areas. Great examples are used to illustrate and apply this method. Communicating without a third party being present to mediate is sometimes difficult. The TLC allows couples to be aware of when they are being “flat-brained”, or letting emotions control their expression.

To use this method and have a greater understanding of the book in general you must understand the roles and rules of communication. He discusses the roles and goals of the talker and the listener. When it is the talkers turn Peterson suggest certain words and phrases to use and not to use to let the other person know how they are feeling. He also stresses the importance of talking without accusing, labeling, attacking or judging. The goal of the listener is to gain understanding and to make the talker feel secure. Peterson reveals the common mistake that most of us make as listeners, which is taking the problem as our own. So the main goal of the listener is not to judge, agree, disagree, advising or defending but to understand (Peterson, 2007). He gives great examples of how this method can drastically change your relationships and change how you respond and listen to the people in your life.

The other half of the book focuses on specific listening skills and how to apply skills read in different settings. One of the chapters talks about basic listening techniques. Peterson suggest that using positive body language, accurate repetition, asking questions and letting talkers know when you do not understand are all apart of having good listening etiquette. He also gives tips on how to listen to in special circumstances. Peterson uses old folks and their “boring” stories. He suggests that we ask question to reveal something that lies beneath the surface. Making the talking feel valued by the listener and the listener will gain a greater understanding of the talker. Also, he modifies techniques and skills so that they may be used in a group setting. RESPOND!

It was very easy to relate topics covered in this book to my personal life. Being a newlywed many of the points he made me think he had been a...
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