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James C. Peterson, author of Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships, through trial and error learned the value of communication balancing in which he found that the counselor must listen awhile, talk until the other person stops hearing and then listen until the person calms enough to hear again. (Peterson, 2007 Pg. 5) This concept is enlarged into a process in which Peterson calls the flat-brain syndrome. The purpose of the writing of this book according to Peterson was to assist couples in gaining the communication skills needed to improve their relationship.
In this book Peterson says to make personal connection with people communication skills need to involve the stomach, which puts our feelings into words, the heart which makes clear that we are putting our own feelings into words and the head which puts our thoughts into words. (Peterson, 2007 Pg. 16) Peterson says that he uses the flat-brain syndrome to understand the problem of failed communication. Peterson explains “communication is the lubrication designed to keep our functions of stomach, heart, and head working separately and together” (Peterson 2007, Pg. 6). The gifted Peterson also takes the concept of the flat brain syndrome a step further by relating to the reader what happens when our systems (stomach, heart and head) get out of whack. (Peterson 2007, Pg. 23)
In this scenario Peterson uses these parts to show what happens to communication, for example stomach overloads, hearts might turn bricklike, brains can go flat, and hearing is altered. These things of course alter the way we hear and feel. These things then set us up to fall into the flat-brain syndrome. Peterson 2007 35-48) In part two Peterson explains the “talker-listener” process or what he refers to as TLC which exhibits his feelings about the whole counseling process. Part three explains the techniques Peterson uses in listening and the traps one can fall into in the process. The process used by Peterson in this book relates things that he has tested and that work for the counselor. In closing Peterson makes clear that to “put wheels on your technique,” the counselor must exhibit warmth, genuineness and empathy.
Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships is a book written from the human counselor perspective. Peterson uses examples of everyday objects to relate positive plans for the counselor to put into action to achieve really positive results. Where many writers fail at connecting with their readers, Peterson brings a high level of understanding and process explanation simply by being down to earth in his communication. The whole goal of the book seemed to be to make a progressive and positive change in the process the non-professional counselor could use to aid and assist his counselee.
From reading the title of the book one might think that listening is the key to the whole process but Peterson adds to the process by incorporating the qualities that pastor counselors should strive to achieve. Those qualities are caring for the counselee, genuine concern for them and the desire to point them at the real counselor. Reflection In reflecting upon the teachings of Dr. Peterson in Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships, I am reminded of a conversation I had with my middle son and his wife just recently.
In particular this book has taught me that I need to listen better and that my boys and their wives are not children anymore. I serve as a missionary to the Navajo in Thoreau, NM. The area is desolate, dry, high and poor. My wife and I had provided a house for our son and daughter-in-law on the property of the church but the time came when they decided they needed to be in a big town where they could both work and do the things young people do. For my wife and I it was a terrible time. We love our kids and we have always been very close.
My son tried to explain to me that he needed to find a good job and there were none in Thoreau and that they wanted to be independent. As I look back I realize how bad I was at listening to people that I love. I said it will cost you more than here and I am not going to support you so you can live in Albuquerque. As I think back I realize that I should have listened much better. All the things I told him came true and they came to me for help over and over.
Some would say “well then why do you think that the listening thing was so important? The answer is a beautiful one…just the other day I offered to help him work on his car and he said to me “That’s O. K. dad I have saved up the money to get a mechanic. ” Small thing to others I would say but to me he was showing me that he really had grown up. Investigation I must say that I enjoyed reading Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships. The book helped me to look at several realities about my life as well as my feelings compared to my reactions. I learned that the best way to have a positive relationship is to communicate.
For many years the most important thing I feel that I have learned is the art of communication. Peterson has written theories that are effective and have been proven over time. Peterson has given himself to the problem of effective communication, to assisting others and to repairing and building relationships. The book was so easy to understand that I felt like I knew a lot about what Peterson was saying but I learned lots of new things as well. The talker-listener card strategy and the flat-brain theory are things that I will use in the future.
It has been hard for me to listen attentively when the communication involves my kids especially when emotions are high but according to the flat-brain theory this is an area that I can work to improve upon. Peterson gives an excellent explanation about how the talker-listener card can work for me and my sons when issues like the one described above come about. Peterson has developed his processes from experiences he has had as a pastoral counselor. Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships has taught me to be a better listener and how to speak only when the counselee is actively listening to me.
This is really a great book for those that want to learn to communicate with others better and to connect with the other party. Application As mentioned before I found this book to be very useful not only in my relationships with my family but also in dealing with the Navajo people in general. One of the things peculiar to many of the Navajo people is that they have specific ways of saying things that to the novice might not mean a whole lot but the talker-listener card methodology will help me in reaching out for their inner feelings, thoughts and desires.
After reading this book I find many things that I can do to improve myself. When combined with the 7 Spiritual Gifts with 4 (DISC) Personality Types I have discovered some important information that will help me in my ministry. For example the spiritual gifts and behavioral blends specific to me are that my Primary Spiritual Gifts are Encouraging/Exhorting (58/60), Mercy (58/60) and Serving/Ministry/Helps (57/60). My behavioral blends say that what is expected of me is S/D but I am really C/S. My primary spiritual gifts were found to be: Encouraging / Exhorting, Mercy and Serving / Ministry / Helps.
I plan to take the profile to heart mainly because some of the people that know me best have said that the profile was me exactly and I agree. I plan to use the suggested scripture to help me work on my weaknesses and to improve on my strengths. I have made a promise to myself and will ask God to help me to listen to what others have to say. I will incorporate a check system to improve my listening technique. I will actively try to listen to the problems of those seeking my advice. I will also attempt to share my thoughts and feelings without labeling, accusing or judging.