WHY DON’T WE LISTEN BETTER? by Lorieen Henry

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Lorieen Henry
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Greetings! This post is a bit different from what I usually share. However, I felt led to pose this question to you as well as share a little bit of my academic reading with you. I took a class two months ago where I had to do a Practical Book Review. So below, I share a snippet from that review in hopes that it may help you. We are never too old to improve! This journey of life requires working every day. That is if we plan to live eternally.

If you don’t remember anything else about this post, remember to PURPOSELY LISTEN TO OTHERS. I have been guilty of going through the motions of listening (at times) or just waiting to get my two cents out, but it is time for change. Let us get James 1:19 down in our hearts and actively live by it.

Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for brand new mercies and the opportunity to impact lives through listening. It is not my best quality but through you all things are possible. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

My Review

Petersen, J. C. (2007). Why don’t we listen better?: Communicating & connecting in relationships. Portland, OR: Petersen Publications.

Communication is an integral part of our human existence. James Petersen’s book, Why don’t we listen better?: Communicating & connecting in relationships was designed as a communication manual because he realized that most people believe that they listen well but do not. He uses practical insights and a collection of listening techniques to assist in improving daily interactions and difficult relationships.

This book is broken down into five major divisions that make it user friendly as a reference. In part one, Petersen creates The Flat Brain Theory of Emotions which uses the body organs of the stomach, heart and head to depict how we can connect better with others (p. 16). Elements of all three – our views (head), how we feel about them (stomach), and openness to another’s concerns (heart) must work in balance to have communication that connects at a deeper level (p. 17). When unbalanced, they cause the Flat-Brain Syndrome where the stomach (emotional) bloats and thoughts (head) are askew (p. 25). Consequently, the dance of overloaded emotions between the talker and listener in attack mode result in the Flat-Brain Tango (p. 33-37). According to Petersen, unhealthy communication can be compared to that of a courtroom situation where both sides attack and defend with winning as their ultimate goal (p. 35).

In part two, The Talker-Listener Process is introduced to foster an environment for the talker and listener to have healthy communication exchange by taking turns (p. 49). Petersen created the Talker-Listener Card (TLC) as a tool for the talker and listener which outline the rules of engagement for both parties and serves as a silent yet vocal referee. Leaving no room for error, the cards have goals and warnings for the talker and listener. The goal of the talker is to share feelings and thoughts while refraining from accusing, attacking labeling and judging. On the other hand, the listener provides a safe, understanding and clarifying environment while refraining from agreeing, disagreeing, advising or defending. This is a great taking turn’s system of communication which was established to remind us to listen first and talk second (p. 55-64).

Petersen’s third part focuses on The Listening Techniques which detail the communication traps. He highlights the following six traps: ritual listening, Perry Masons (disguising questions as statements), “Why?”, “Not?”, “I understand” and “Yes, but”. He recommends that the traps be memorized because they kill the hopes of productive communication exchange. However, knowing them will keep you out of unnecessary drama (p. 115-122).

Parts four and five wrap up with extended examples using the Talker-Listener Process to deal with groups and learning to grow in empathy, genuineness and warmth (p. 8). Using the TLC in groups was used as a game to practice and teach good listening skills. Seeing the Talker-Listener Process in a fun light helped the groups retain its message of listen first and talk second. The author leaves us with this final word, “become people in whose presence good things happen.”

And from the nuggets that I extracted in chapter 25, I make this declaration: “Each day, my goal is to walk this communication journey with others in a way that will leave them in better shape than I found them” (p. 209).

BLESSINGS!

Lorieen

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