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Why We Don’t Listen Better

Practical Book Review One: James C.Petersen, D.Min.

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_________________ Presented to Rev. Mario Garcia, Jr. , Ph. D. , J. D. Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary Lynchburg, VA __________________ In Partial fulfillment Of the requirements for the course PACO 500 Introduction to Pastoral Counseling ________________________ By Odell Joiner November, 2011 Hey Petersen, James C. 2007. Why don’t we listen better? Communicating and connecting in relationships. Tigard, OR: Petersen Publications. “I observed that while other avoided grumpy people, all I had to do to reduce their grump-factor was to ask questions and let them tell me their stories. .. I also found that after I paid enough attention to their personal and political tirades, they became receptive to me too. ” (5) The above excerpt from Dr. Peterson’s book, Why don’t we listen better? could be consider as the premise or purpose for his writing. Learning how to listen, digest what the other person is articulating, “putting yourself in their shoes” (understanding), and providing valuable input is his primary objective. At the very onset of Dr. Peterson’s book, he use an illustration that gains the attention of the perspective reader.

He recall an early experience, perhaps one of his first encounters as a young pastor counseling a couple. As he explained, he had little to know experience in this arena but he did have success. Dr. Peterson attributes his success to being able to listen, understand, and offer valuable insight. The perspective reader can identify his contentment toward this book by his claims of occasionally revisiting his book as source of knowledge, and that he wants the perspective reader to utilize the book as a guide (handbook) instead of a regular book on subject matter relating to communication.

Dr. Peterson sets the foundations (according to his beliefs) for effective communication and interaction with others at the beginning of the book and uses these foundations as a sort of skeletal framework for the remaining of his work: Part One : The Introduction of Dr. Peterson’s “Flat-Brain Theory” (8) Part Two: The use of the Talker-Listener Card (8) Part Three: Basic Listening Techniques (8) Part Four and Five: Extended Examples using the Talker-Listening Process (8) Flat-Brain Theory: The Flat- Brain Theory (according to Dr.

Peterson) takes into consideration the human body as contributing factors in the communication process: the stomach, the heart and the head. The stomach is attributed as the location of feelings. “Healthy heart functions give and receive concerns… ” (12) The heart “put” everything together and the “options and possibilities”. (12) And finally, the head functions as the source for rationalization of information. Talker-Listening Process: The Talker-Listening Process establishes the roles in the communication process.

The “talker” is attributed as the “owner of the problem” and the “listener” role is understand and allow the “talker” to share their feelings and thoughts. Additionally, Dr. Peterson provides “Talker-Listener Cards” (TLC) which outlines and reminds each other (talker and listener) of their responsibilities within the communication process. After the foundations of “Flat-Brain Theory” and the Talker- Listener Process is established and thoroughly explained, Dr. Peterson “shifts gears” into a more practical communication methods.

Dr. Peterson provides insightful guides and suggestions for the reader to employ in their effective communication practices. The perspective reader evaluate and use the methods outline in his book to develop their own effective communication strategies and concepts regarding counseling others. You After reading Dr. Peterson’s work, I was amazed and drawn to his work. I was able to enjoy his work not just as an assignment for this course, but a useful tool for future study and a teaching premise.

Reading his work brought an understanding that in communication and interaction that if discovered early (in my opinion) could benefit many marriages, and other relationships. As I reflect on my personal experience, I think about the earlier years of my marriage. I could identify with Dr. Peterson’s example in Chapter 3 regarding “Jack and Jill”. The only difference was that I thought if my wife would just listen to me first then I would undoubtedly solve any problem should would ever face. “After all I’m smart; I’m a good judge of character; I know how to interact and handle people; and if need be I can be very assertive. A few “short” years ago, my wife and I were visiting some of her relatives. Before we arrived, I made her agree that we would “head” back from her relative a certain time. However, I really did not consider her feelings regarding my “strict” timeline. During the visit, I would rehearse to my wife about “our” agreed itinerary. It did not dawn on me that I had “bullied” her into this agreement. After a week after the visit, my wife explained her feelings concerning “our” agreement and how I did not take into account her feelings. She claimed that I was using “double-standards”.

At the time, I thought that my wife was just complaining and not being realistic. But reflecting upon this book, and reflecting on previous episodes regarding my communication with my wife, I could have use this book. I failed to put myself in my wife position and could have seriously damage our relationship. Look The work of Dr. Peterson highlights the importance of effective communication. Early in my life I thought that “getting” point across was the most important principle concerning communication. In using the concepts outlined in this book, I would evaluate myself as fallen prey to the “Flat-Brain Theory”.

The relevance of Dr. Peterson work is that it correlates Kollar’s and Hawkins’ work. Each illuminates the importance of the perspective counselor first understanding themselves such as knowing their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. Before a perspective counselor can assist others, he/she must address their own personal egocentricities. A valid question that could accompany Dr. Peterson’s work would be: Based upon your understanding of the “Flat-Brain Theory”, do you find yourself in this particular category? If so, what are some practical approaches you could take to remedy the “Flat-Brain Theory”? Understanding each component of the “Flat-Brain Theory assist in my understanding of in identifying potential prohibiting factors of communication. If I can identify the condition of my stomach (feels/emotions), my heart (processing of information) and my head (logical) , I can readily identify the condition of others that I may assist. The most impressive aspect of Dr. Peterson’s work is that he claims that he often times refers to it.

Based upon this, one is lead to believe that counseling is not an exhausted field. The pastoral counselor must take it upon himself to constantly be in a state of learning. If the counselor allows complacency set in then he loses his effectiveness. Do After reading Dr. Peterson’s book, I feel encouraged and inspired to examine my own feelings and logic. I quickly realize that I must treat every potential counseling occasion as fresh and unique. I cannot enter in to any counseling session with preconceived ideas or emotions. Each person is unique so their circumstance must be unique.

In my own relationship, I learned from Dr. Peterson’s work is that I should not think for others. Allowing others to communicate and I listen without trying to talk for them will assist in strengthening my personal relationships. Only by being a “good” listener can I become more understanding. The 7Gift/DISC profiler identified several characteristics that I believe to be true about my personality. Such characteristics as determined and detail oriented. Although this can be good in certain aspects but it can leave those that I interact with a sense that I can be very demanding or intimidating.

Understanding how I portray myself to others is critical to being a counselor. As I reflect upon my ” Relational Style Action Plan”, Dr. Peterson’s “Talker-Lister Process” applies. The TLC provide simple but valuable guidelines to facilitate the communication process. One of my struggles in the communication process has been that I would look for indicators in the process. I would sometime assume incorrectly what they were trying to portray. The TLC will assist in articulating correctly the point that the “talker” is communicating.

One significant point that Dr. Peterson communicates in his work is that from time to time he refers to the book. If had a fellow counselor, that was experiencing challenges in communication, I would reference first Dr. Peterson acknowledgement that he is life-long learner, encourage them to try new techniques and methods, and possibly do some self assessment tools to assess himself. With that in mind, my outlook is that the counselor must be available to learn and perfect their craft. Openness is necessary not only for the counselee but also for the counselor.

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