Practical Book Review Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships Melvin Ballard 22274758 Dr. Marcus Tanner In partial fulfillment of the requirements of Introduction to Pastoral Counseling PACO 500 Liberty Baptist Seminary Lynchburg, VA 4/7/2013 SUMMATION James C. Petersen book, Why don’t we listen better? Communicating and Connecting in Relationships surmised good communication skills can be achieved through active listening, understanding from the part of the talker and the attitude of the listener.
This process of sharing and connecting can be attained through our acceptance and valuing one another. The word communication derives from the root to “commune”, it has at least two levels- sharing information and connecting with others (Petersen, 2007, 18). Active listening allows a person to actually hear what is being said; this invites the talker to feel as though they are valued. By active listening gives a person the ability to interact and communicate that will bring about healthy and fruitful relationships.
This book is a road map to helping people learn to engage in positive communication and foster wholesome relationships. Petersen explored how one can become a better communicator by using various tools; the flat-brain theory, the talker-listener card and exploring various listening techniques. Petersen explained the concept flat-brain theory as emotions that are displayed in our stomach, heart and brain. The brain is the central area of our communication this is where we find and form our words to say.
The head functions incorporate thinking, planning, remembering, reviewing, deciding, rationalizing, what we consider the logical part of us (Petersen, 12). Petersen describes the stomach as the emotional area where we contain past hurt feelings, feelings of inadequacy, worry, anxiety which leads to not being able to store anything too many new things (23). The heart is the functionality of a person. How we function depends on how our heart is whether healthy or unhealthy. When our system goes out of whack Petersen refers to it as the Flat-brain syndrome.
He describes it as our stomach expand with mixed emotions which cause our heart to turn into bricks sending our relating ability to respond inappropriately and ultimately the upward expansion from our heart causes our brains to flatten to the top of our head (23). A good communicator is able to balance these stimuli’s that causes one to become out of kilter. Petersen uses examples of how to make sure one is able to stay in control of his emotions, his actions and his arguments. The talker-listener process engages people to take turn in talking and listening.
Petersen developed the talker-listener card in hope of promoting individuals to improve the ability to interact and communicate better. The card is placed in between two people or groups and the side that has talker that person or group will talk while the other side listens. After the talker finishes the card is turned around to give the other an opportunity to talk while the other side or person listens. This tool keeps a person or a group from talking while others are talking i. e. everyone is talking and no one is listening. As the saying goes we can all sing at the same time but we all cannot talk at the same time.
Petersen formulated this idea in order to stop flat-brain tango. The rest of Why Don’t we Listen Better? Communicating and Connecting in Relationships deals with techniques in the development of good communication skills. However, Petersen notes that good communication hinges on authentic listening techniques (115). REFLECTION I started playing sports when I was five years old; I have always had a competitive nature about myself. I guess it has to do with having an identical twin brother, always trying to outdo him. With that competitive nature I always wanted to win.
In reading Petersen’s book I realized my competitive nature causes me to win battles but lose the war. Even in discussions (arguments) I have to win. Petersen states, this is unhealthy when I choose not to respect the feelings of others moving from a friend to a victor (40). The book describes the feeling of a ‘thud’ this is the initial clue that a person feels when they sense they are being attacked. I know the feeling; it causes me to react in a defensive way. In college I actually lost a girl friend and did not realize she was trying to help me and it was for my own good and benefit. I saw it as her thinking she was better than me.
Petersen declares that instead of reacting negatively but acknowledging what can be bother the other person begins the downshift from anger to resentment (43). I know what they are feeling, so why do I respond in a negative manner because I view the person as attacking me. In defense I strike back. On many times and different occasions I found myself using words that were not helpful but hurtful. I assumed they were attacking me with their words so in return I felt justified to attack them. INVESTIGATION The new terminology Petersen uses to describe the feeling within a person is refreshing and appreciative.
He does not use the typical therapeutic terms but uses everyday layman words to discuss and explain his scenarios. Petersen has brought a new fresh perspective in the communication model. Petersen uses such basic elementary techniques that will help a person to become a better communicator. Petersen encourages you to use the finger method when you are bothered with someone in order for you not to be accusing or blaming. Wow, how simple but profound at the same time. The Talker-Listener card is a great tool to use to promote healthy communication skills.
He uses the card as a game in which individuals or groups can play in order to have an effective moment of sharing. As we look at our total man; spirit, soul and body dealing with our soulically part, which our emotions lies we can connect with Petersen as by utilizing his concept. When we feel like someone is harming us through words before we react allow the Holy Spirit to control our tongue. The Book of James 3:6; calls the tongue a fire, a world of iniquity it is the unruly untamable member of the body. Applying Petersen’s techniques and concepts will help us to control our tongue.
We cannot be imitators’ of Christ if we allow our words to destroy and not build up. Jesus edified using words. His words ministered grace to the hearers. As representatives of Christ we must not grieve the Holy Spirit which seals us to the day of redemption. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we allow corrupt communication that come out of our mouth, which does not edify or minister grace to the hearer (Eph. 4:29). APPLICATION Why Don’t we Listen Better? Communicating and Connecting in Relationships has challenged me to change my habit of not actively engaging in good communication.
Being a good listener will afford me to take focus to other’s interest and not just mine. I had an opportunity after reading in applying what I learned. Petersen is right I was able to use it successfully a few times and not at other times. I have already purposed in my heart to change my mind about the way I choose to communicate. This book has confronted me with developing my communication skills through active listening and recognizing how I can be able to help someone in their time of need. It will be beneficial for me to put this card in my wallet look at it when I feel I’m feeling that action in my stomach.
This will allow me to focus on the needs of the other rather than my feelings. I will not be a good communicator if I choose to allow my emotions to control my actions that will ultimately alter my argument. I must realize through the Holy Spirit’s leading, when He nudges me, I must began to change my attitude and put in use techniques that will allow me to become a better participant in communicating with others. Once I have learned this method I will be able to share it with others who find themselves hurling harmful, hurtful, and hideous words at a love one.
As proverbs 15:1, reminds us; grievous words stir up anger but a soft answer turns away wrath. A good communicator learns to hear with his inner ear, the Holy Spirit. Petersen, James C. 2007. Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships: Portland, OR: Petersen Publication Practical Book Review Grading Rubric Name: Criteria| Points Possible| Points Earned| General| Paper adheres to TRS formatting (title page, in-text citations, References page, etc. ) Correct File Name. Rubric pasted in. 10| | Writing is clear with appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Headings are appropriately labeled. | 10| | Summation (no more than 500 words)| The author and chapter(s) are identified. | 10| | Concise summation with no personal reflection on content is provided. | 10| | Reflection (no more than 250 words)| Personal life experience is applied. 1st person usage (“I” is used). | 10| | Investigation (no more than 300 words)| Discussion regarding how the material interfaces with model of personhood and assessment is present| 10| | Thought-provoking questions are posed. 10| | Positives and negatives are discussed. | 10| | Application (no more than 300 words)| Details are included concerning how this information informs the process of checking/controlling student’s particular DISC relational style. 1st person (“I) usage is appropriate. | 10| | There is a description that indicates what action will be taken or what change the student are going to make to influence his/her personal and professional growth and development. 1st person (“I”) usage is appropriate| 10| | Total:| 100| | Instructor’s comments:
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