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on January 31, 2008
This book was recommended by a psychiatrist friend of mine. It was well written (although I did find some typos) and contained information new to me.

I found two concepts that were particularly useful:

1. The 'flat brain' theory &
2. The 'talker-listener' card strategy.

The 'flat-brain' theory explains why it is hard to listen when emotions are involved. And the author's description of the 'talker listener' card strategy provides a detailed and clearly-explained methodology for both listening AND being heard.

The author's common-sense explanations of listening techniques add quite a lot to the value of the book and obviously have been honed over the years through the author's experience as a pastoral counselor.

My wife and I read this book to each other, and spent a lot of time discussing the content as we went along. I highly recommend this method of reading. Now we both use the 'talker-listener' method when discussing 'hot' topics. It helps us listen to each other's point of view and we usually both feel 'heard' even when we disagree. I also find myself listening better almost anytime I find myself with someone who is talking.

Over-all, if you are in the market for a book that will make a big difference in your ability to communicate (talk and listen) in difficult situations, then this is your book!
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on March 13, 2009
Peterson uses creative imagery to describe poor communication habits and the relational dysfunction that occurs when we fail to listen to one another. He has termed the phrase, "flat brain theory" to explain what happens when we allow our emotions to affect our thinking which in turns affects our relating. Emotions are often felt in the stomach area. When we are afraid, we have a feeling in the pit of our stomach. We often describe excitement as butterflies in our stomach. Many people state they have a "gut feeling" about something. The brain area describes our cognitive functioning relating to facts. We use our brains to come to conclusions or evaluate facts and eventually make our case. The heart area describes the actual desire to relate. In its natural state, it operates from a win-win mode. It gives and takes, listens and speaks. Healthy communication requires an individual to use his brain to state the facts, his stomach to express how he feels about the facts and his heart to use that information to relate to another individual in a fair, loving way.

Petersen suggests that often unresolved conflicts or other emotions reside in our feeling area (stomach) when they are not properly dealt with. When an opportunity arises, those unresolved feelings will often swell up into a vast array of emotional responses. This swelling process expands the stomach area (figuratively) which in turn flattens the heart and subsequently the brain area. As this happens, the squished brain does not function properly and this affects the hearing, seeing, and speaking of the affected person. In addition, the squished heart is no longer functioning from a loving win-win stance, but instead becomes defensive and attacks.

Petersen offers a solution to putting an end to the negative cycle of flat brain communication. He suggests that those learning to improve their communication skills print out a Talker/Listener card to use as a reminder of the roles and goals of each participant. The Talker side reads: I am the most bothered. I own the problem. It describes the goals of talking as: to share my feelings and to share my thoughts. It then suggests that this is accomplished without judging, attacking, labeling, or accusing. The Listener side of the card states: I am calm enough to hear. I do not own the problem. The goals of the listener are: to provide safety, to understand, and to clarify. These goals are accomplished without agreeing, disagreeing, advising, or defending.

After thoroughly examining the roles and goals of the talker and listener, Petersen completes his book with a look at other communication tips such as what questions not to ask, how to show empathy, and how to deal with anger. He also includes a section on using his Talker/Listener card in group settings.
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on July 30, 2007
Dr. Petersen's practical guide to better communication not only answers the question that is the title of his book, but takes the reader and user of his techniques (the innovative TALKER/Listener card) on a journey into a higher quality of life. Good relationships start with clear communication of expectations, feelings, and desires. They flourish when we help each other listen carefully to the deeper meaning of what we say by practicing basic fairness with each other and by offering equal opportunity to our partners to speak and be heard correctly. This is more than a self-help book. I've used it to teach communication skills and insights in my marriage and family course in college. I recommend highly.
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on April 17, 2007
Being a nursing student I need to be able to hear what others are telling me and then have the skills to listen even harder. I deal with a lot of people that communicate differently than I do and don't have a lot of time to get to know them. This book helped, and continues to help me, do my job.
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on May 18, 2008
Jim Petersen's book, Why Don't We Listen Better?, is easy to read and easy to follow. If you are in a crisis communication situation, you can start on the road to communicating better in less than an hour with the talk-listen card that is included with the book.

Using the talk-listen card helps relieve tension by allowing participants to focus on the job they should be doing at the time. This technique makes talking about things you might be upset about less intimidating and scary.

If I could be Queen For A Day, I'd ask that everyone learn the techniques presented in this book, and be a "card-carrying" listener.
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on December 4, 2007
As a pastor, I deal with people all the time whose relationships are struggling. Dr. Peterson's book finally gets to the bottom of much of our communication struggles. Without placing blame on anyone, his insights may be the one tool we have all been looking for, to be heard and to finally understand one another. I can't recommend this book highly enough to all who would like to understand people better or to improve their relationships.
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on October 11, 2011
I was assigned this book as part of a grad school course. At first glimpse, I thought it was too simple of a book. Ha! I was wrong! The concepts and practices of the book are amazing tools which will change the way you communicate daily, or in dyads or groups to pursue better human understanding. This book is on my mental list of most life impacting reads ever. The power of listening cannot be overstated in my book, but it was not until I read this book that I understood the importance. Love it!
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on October 17, 2008
Using the Talker Listener process saved my marriage several years ago and continues to help my husband and I communicate hot button topics with each other. We tend to start arguing and then bring out the card, not what is suggested, but once the card is there in the middle it kind of becomes a referee in our exchanges. We play by the rules, no one gets hurt and problems are solved.
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on May 9, 2009
I like the many examples of conversations sprinkled throughout this book.
They were very helpful in clarifying the main ideas of Dr. Petersen.

Christine C. Gibson

I enjoyed the book. It reminds us that listening is an important skill.
Dr Petersen's sample conversations assist each reader to practice
listening and talking. Saying the phrase "It sounds like..." is a
helpful guide to healthy listening and talking.

Rev. Richard K. Gibson
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on August 12, 2009
This is a fabulous book. I teach some classes on communication for my church and this is one book I put in the hands of every student. Its humor and dandy little illustrations make it a hit.
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