Book Review: Petersen, James Why don’t we listen better?

Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating and Connecting in Relationships by Dr. James  Petersen is a practical guide which can help to become a good communicator. The book accumulates rich experience of the author and his counseling experience. Four chapters of the book give detailed information about the theory of communication and present practical techniques which may help to use this theory in practice. The first chapter contains the descriptions of different theories, which may be useful for the understanding true functions and methods of communication. The second chapter describes the process of communication in great detail. In this chapter the author introduces the method of the Talker-Listener Cards (TLC). These card are designed in order to help readers to practice their communication skills and to master the art of good conversation. This chapter helps to make right accents during the communication. He defines the roles of talker and listener and marks important stages of their interaction.  The third part of the book is dedicated to the art of listening. The author gives numerable advices which must help the readers to become good listeners.  The last part of the book centers on the group communication. The author gives advices how to use his method in different groups. All four chapters make step by step and easy guide to the strategy of successful communication. The book contains nice illustrations which help to understand the author’s message better. Petersen writes about his own experience in the field of communication and this personal information creates emotional connection between the author and his readers. The readers may understand that the author is a usual persona who also had had problems in communication but he managed to overcome them. The author’s personal example becomes inspiring for his readers. The author uses colorful metaphors and bright illustrations and examples, which makes his ideas more understandable to the audience. Rich imaginary is a strong part of the book. The author uses bright and colorful symbols to explain bad communicational habits. Examples are clear and lively and many people can easily see their flows in communication. This strategy is much more useful than bare facts and theories. “Flat brain theory” ”“ the author’s concept of the impact of emotions on our thinking process and thus our attitudes to other people ”“ is a very useful and interesting idea. According to the author unresolved situations and emotional memories are kept in our emotional memory and they often interfere in our communication (Petersen, James C., 2007). These feelings may spoil communication and the author gives algorithm how to avoid this. Talker-Listener card  becomes the author’s good innovation which can become really helpful for those who want to change their communicational skills for better. The card servers as a reminder of roles and objectives in the process of communication.

I liked the book because it touches the important theme ”“ the motifs and meaning of communication process in general. I believe that many people do not pay much attention to the goal of their communication. Such an attitude results in misunderstanding and complicates human relations. The author gives us valuable ideas which may help to understand the role and function of each person who participates in the process of communication.  Petersen divides communication into three levels which are represented by the head, heart and stomach.

This division becomes a very bright and vivid illustration of different types of needs people have in the process of communication.

Understanding these needs and motifs of communication is one of key factors of success in this process. The author also states that improving the art of communication a person will improve the art of building relations in general. In contrast to many popular books on these theme, Peterson’s work does not contain only number of tips which aim to persuade the audience. It contains the methods which can help to understand the needs and deep motivation of people in the process of communication and this knowledge will help to build not only good communication, but also good and healthy relations with other people. For me the book became a source of important information.

The author makes the readers to change their focus of perception. From my past experience I remember that I usually care only about myself when I talk to somebody. Even when I listen to other people I think only about my personal reactions to their words. Thoughts and feelings of the conversational partner did not play an important role to me in the past. I understood this only after reading the book and I hope to change this using the techniques given in the book.

I liked the book and it is definitely a useful textbook of communication. At the same time I believe that the book has several counterparts. In the book the author describes an important problem of suppressed feelings and emotions. He describes this problem only from the position of communication but the problem of repressed emotions is one of fundamental concepts of contemporary psychology. In reality negative emotions and bad emotional experience influence all spheres of human life, not only communication. It is good that the author suggests to mind this important factor during communication but I doubt that it really can help to resolve emotional problems of people. Healthy relations will naturally lead to healthy communications, but not vice versa, as the author suggests. All people want to enjoy surrounding and communication where they feel safe and natural.  Unfortunately, their past negative experience makes them make their judgments about the surrounding and being only a good listener a person can hardly help people in their emotional problems. It is also worth remembering that all of us have these kind of problems and while trying too hard to make a good listener we may get in trouble by suppressing our own feelings and emotions.

In general I believe the book to be an effective aid which can help to improve our communication strategies. I definitely want to use new information I read there. I would like to learn how to control my negative communicative patters. Petersen made a great job describing them in his book and I am going to avoid these patterns in my further communication. I also found information about the emotional side of each conversation to be very useful and important. I believe that even only remembering about the emotional state of the partner may be very useful for any kind of communication. I believe that in many communicational situations the information from the Talker-Listener card may be useful. Much information from the book  may be used as a help in the process of communication. The most important thing which does the author, to my mind, is a remind that that communication is a process where two people create close connection and exchange not only information, but also emotions and states. If to remember this information we can reestimate the importance of communication in our life and put more effort to work on its improvement.

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