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Practical Book Review

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SUMMARIZE!
Petersen, J. C. (2007). Why Don't We Listen Better? Communicarting & Connecting in Relationships. Portland, OR: Petersen Publication.
A self-help book that explains in detail on how listening can in fact improve how we think and respond to different situations in life. Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating and Connecting in Relationships has given great insight on how to improve relationships and how to connect with others.
As Petersen divides this book into five different divisions he allows you to meditate as well as resolve your own issues that you may experience when it comes to communicating. Part one as he calls it is the Flat Brain Theory of Emotions in which explains how our emotions play a major role in how we relate to others, secondly the Talker-Listeners Card teaches us how to take turns. That we should listen first respond second. Thirdly retaining the techniques that you learned about and then finding what works for you best. Fourth and fifth become that person whose presence is wanted in a conversation.
Petersen explains to us that communication develops in our brain, stomach and heart. That the brain is where our speech is formulated and this is how we choose which words we will decide to use through the communication process. According to (Petersen, 2007, p. 11) stomach functions consist of our feelings and emotions even though you may feel emotions elsewhere. As for the heart a healthy heart give and receive concerns, suggestions, and support and are ready to consider many options and possibilities (Petersen, 2007, p. 12). This verse also came to mind for me when speaking about the heart “In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood”. In order to become a good, effective communicator we should learn to balance these points in order to be more helpful when communicating. Keeping them proportion will allow for a healthy and productive communication process. Peterson also defines two levels of communication in his book. The first level of communication is the exchange of information and also the point of view of things. Petersen explains that this level of communication lacks depth and complicates matters. That the communication process requires you to give things a deeper thought. The second level involves emotion and moves people to connect more intimately. It is also a level that involves an emotional attachment and shared feelings. According to (Petersen, 2007, p. 19) in this level of communication information becomes easier, clearer, and the process more forgiving.
In counseling we learn to express warmth, empathy, and genuineness when dealing with individuals that we communicate with especially in the process of helping them to progress in life and come out of difficult situations. In the conclusion of Petersen’s book he shows that these things create effective communication and that it allows us as people to grow, and improve ourselves as we go through life and that the communication process is essential in business, family, and a social life.
RESPOND!
In relating parts of the book to myself and thinking back to a situation where communication was definitely important. I thought back to several misunderstanding that my supervisor and I had encountered when speaking to each other. Petersen talks about ownership. In which this is something that I was taught early in life. I was taught if I do wrong or if I do something that hurt someone else’s feelings to recognize what I had done and take responsibility for it.
In the mist of the conversation and trying to hash out the problem, I recall telling her that you never take ownership for anything that you do; that you automatically take defense and point the finger in another direction. Remind you that I apologized for my wrong doing, but never did she. Instead she looks at me and says “well, you do the same thing” after reading the text I realized that I was communicating alone. She was responding, but not listening. So, I say this to say that I found a positive point about myself through the reading. I do accept ownership in communication and take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings.
On the other hand I am guilty when it comes to stomach talk. I have found myself lashing out at friends in a conversation not realizing that those feelings and thoughts were about myself until now. I remember telling a friend after her calling me crying about her boyfriend that she should quit crying, get a grip, and leave that good for nothing sorry behind man alone because all he does is make you cry and I’m sick of hearing it. In my internal conversation I was battling with my no good boyfriend that I should have kicked to the curve a long time ago. I took my feelings out on her rather than sharing what was going on with me.
REFLECT!
An “Ah ha” moment for me came when I read that some talkers aren’t interested in being heard and understood. They really want control (Petersen, 2007, p. 100). I thought back to that same previous situation with my supervisor. Yes; even though in a sense she is in control, but does that give her the right to totally ignore my feelings and thoughts? After dealing with this same pettiness for the past 10 years repeatedly this book confirmed what I had been kind of thinking the entire time. The text explains that these people are locked into their own agendas and are problem people. And this is true. As long as I do everything that she wants me to and I feed her ego she’s great. And yes a problem person she is and I know this because of past conversations that she and I have had. But now realizing that I cannot help solve those problems. Petersen said it best “Problem people with heavy control needs can hurt you” (Petersen, 2007, p. 100). So, in knowing this I have to be careful with my approach and I how I communicate and use this technique.
This is so ironic because these past few weeks I have been telling myself that it’s time to move on in life and that our work relationship had just about expired. Petersen gave me clarity that I need to move on and improve my life and hers. I could do this the next time we engage in a conversation that isn’t healthy for either one of us. “You seem bent on having your way. Guess you’ll have to do that on your own” of course in a respectful way, but I think this may get her attention. This technique will help me to remember that my thoughts and feelings are equally important.
ACT!
After reading this self-help book Why Don’t We Listen Better? I plan on utilizing everything that I have learned by trying to make a conscious effort to implement it in the everyday communication process. I will do this by keeping this book and the Talker-Listener Card so that I am to review it from time to time to research exactly what I may have done wrong or what area I may need help in while engaging in conversation.
Techniques that I need to try and incorporate to improve my relational style is Hem and haw, own your own feelings, use both hands, and especially parental responsibility. I feel that these techniques along with some others will definitely help me to reach a friend or a counselee who needs guidance. Right now dealing with my 14 year old son the parental responsibility technique really stuck out for me. He is constantly telling me that I never listen to him. Hopefully this technique will improve our relationship and give me a better understanding to what he is going through.
For me the head talk picture represents me well. Sometimes I tend to express myself without feelings attached. People tend to read my expressions and pay close attention to my face and instantly take offense and then its trouble. It is so easy to judge and make assumptions about a person’s situation instead of listening to them to guide them in the right direction. Also, the talker-listener card is a great tool that I will use in the communication process. Taking turns is very essential to the communication process as Petersen has stated. I have even tried this already and it truly works.
Utilizing “Why Don’t We Listen Better?” as a reference within my counseling scenario would be helpful in helping my counselees. Using the TLC as an example and explaining it, and then asking the counselee if they mind participating in the activity would also be helpful. Making Q-cards of the word pictures or even framed pictures hung around the office could definitely help in the process of helping counselees. A visual is always better sometimes. Maybe even drawing out these images and having an open conversation about them and how they feel during this process could also help.
In life I need to make changes by focusing on myself first and practice these techniques until they become natural to me. Through life I have learned that you cannot be a service to someone else until you sweep around your own front door. Sometimes in life we tend to jump in head first and act as if we know everything, but now I have learned that listening first will give us a better understanding of what someone else is going through as well as thinking of different scenarios that relate to their situation as they are talking. “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” Daniel 2:21.…...

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