Why Don't We Listen Better Practical Book Review

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Practical Book Review One:

James C. Peterson

Presented to

Dr. Dwight Rice

Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary

Lynchburg, VA


In Partial fulfillment

Of the requirements for the course

PACO 500 Introduction to Pastoral Counseling



Shervanne E. Gatson

September, 2011

HEY! (25 pts)
My Summary
Petersen, James C. 2007. Why don’t we listen better? Communicating and connecting in relationships. Tigard, OR: Petersen Publications.

For forty years, Peterson focused on speaking at communication workshops and to couples. He dedicates his life to counseling and pastoral ministry. Peterson wrote Why don’t we listen better? Communicating and connecting in relationships to help couples gain the communication skills needed and improve their relationship. In the book Peterson introduced the flat brain theory in which he uses this theory to understand the problem of failed communication. The theory also shows how and why tense situations get us upset and what to do about it. He discusses where the stomach, heart, and head fit in the Flat-Brain Theory of Emotions. He stated that, “Communication is the lubrication designed to keep our functions of stomach, heart, and head working separately and together” (Peterson 2007, 16).

Next, Peterson goes into more in debt by discussing the flat-brain syndrome. He gives examples of what happens when our system goes into whack (Peterson 2007, 23). Some of the examples of the flat-brain syndrome are stomach overloads, hearts turn bricklike, brains go flat, and hearing is skewed, etc. Peterson believes that defense and attacks are identical; the self gets in an immediate defense mechanism, making the person aggressive once the flat brain is attained (Peterson 2007, 34). We attack people who already have the same mechanisms as you when we defend ourselves. Peterson describes the flat brain tango which happens between people which turns into something similar to a courtroom battle (Peterson 2007, 35). He next tells us how to opt out of the flat-brain tango by giving up what we really want to get out of the situation. Peterson gets you to thinking whether to be victors of friends. Some people suffer from an unhealthy need to win and others have a healthy drive to win which are two different things (Peterson 2007, 39). It is important to understand the difference if our need to win to be healthy. This part of the book helps us to learn how to stop this cycle of behavior.

Part two of this book talks about the talker-listener process. This technique uses a talker-listener card which introduces a third person into your conversation which is objectivity (Peterson 2007, 55). The talker-listener card calms down both parties to hear what the other person is trying to communicate to you. The talker shares their feeling and their thoughts without accusing, attacking, labeling, and judging. The listener is calm enough to hear that they do not own the problem to provide safety, to understand, and to clarify without agreeing, disagreeing, advising, and defending.

Part three of the books discusses the listening techniques. Peterson discusses a few communication traps as well as basic listening techniques. Many people fall into the trap of ritual listening which keeps you quiet so you can wait for the other person to shut up so you can tell your story or make your point (Peterson 2007, 116). In the last part of the book, Peterson discusses using the talker-listening card in groups. He introduces a listening game that helps you practice and teach good listening skills in your family (Peterson 2007, 183). YOU! (25 pts)

My Reflection
While I was reading this book, I realize that I could relate to the techniques that Peterson used in this book. I am currently in the military and my husband and I had the opportunity to attend several marriage retreats sponsored by the...
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