Practical Book Review of Petersen Text
Lori Edwards Azuru
James Petersen (2007) illustrates an innovative way of communicating in the book, Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating and Connecting in Relationships. This book is divided into five sections. In part one Petersen (2007) discusses the “Flat-Brain Theory of Emotions” (p. 10-11). This is his way of explaining what occurs when one is overcome with emotions, and can no longer communicate with clarity. Petersen (2007) then illustrates in his book what he envisions to be the stomach (emotions), heart (objectives and interpretations), and the head (which is where we draw our logical conclusions), to resemble. Flat brain occurs when one’s stomach is filled to capacity with uncomfortable emotions and feelings (Petersen, 2007). This in return then upwardly impacts the heart, resulting in squashing the brain; therefore causing it to go flat. He then reminds the reader that one has a choice to become defensive, and be overtaken by this phenomenon, or to collaborate with those who are involved, to bring about a positive outcome.
In part two, “the talker listening process”, is how Petersen (2007) describes the method of relieving the symptoms of flat brain; this process involves “taking turns talking and listening” (p. 49). Petersen (2007) also discusses “stomach talk”, meaning that one is only allowed to share his or her own insecurities, rather than blaming others (p. 78). He warns his readers that “sharing and thinking is risky business”, however, worth it in exchange for a more cherished relationship (p. 82). Petersen (2007) then uses the recipe of “two parts personal and one part logical”, to balance the scales of communication (p. 85).
In part three Petersen (2007), introduces several “listening techniques” to further one’s communication, including the “six communication pitfalls” (p. 116-121). These pitfalls are an attempt to stay in control of the conversation, as well as a clever form of manipulation on the part of the speaker (Petersen, 2007). He then goes on to explain the two levels of communication; the first being more superficial, and the second, immerging into a deeper level of how one is truly feeling emotionally. Petersen (2007) ends this portion of the book reminding one to be careful of hidden agendas, and taking on more serious cases such as, someone suggesting suicide.
In the last sections four and five, Peterson (2007) takes on the challenge of bringing it all together with examples of the listening game. This is where families learn to interact in a safe family environment. This is especial helpful for children, while reinforcing the taking turns skills they have already learned growing up. Peterson (2007) then reintroduces the TLC card to the group setting; which allows everyone a chance to be heard, respected, and better express themselves. As Petersen (2007) wraps up the book, he suggests that the TLC card can be useful with monitoring couples, as well as “sharing, negotiating, and closing” (p. 203). Lastly, he leaves us with his philosophy, which is “to leave people and places in better a better condition than when I found them” (p. 209).
When I began reading Peterson’s (2007) I was amazed at his candidness, his story drew me in immediately. Because I am a published author myself, I understand how difficult transparency can be. Petersen (2007) provokes one to deal with the selfish nature within, in addition to “need to win” attitude (p. 7). This portion of the book spoke volumes to me.
I grew up in a time where winning was everything at home, school and church. However, I always seem to be the one who lost. I cowered beneath the hand of my older sister, strict father, and...
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