Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships
Scott A. Beck
In the book, Why Don’t We Listen Better? Communicating & Connecting in Relationships Dr. James Petersen (2007) explores a problem which is, in my opinion, the single greatest contributor to relationship failures in our personal and professional lives. Dr. Petersen explains the listening process by breaking it into five understandable sections. He then shows us areas to avoid, as well as how to improve as both a listener and speaker.
In the first section of the book, Options in Communicating, Petersen (2007) breaks the listening puzzle down to its most basic form, our emotions. . He describes three areas, the stomach, the heart and the head and how each respond in varying listening situations. The stomach functions are those emotions that are personal to us and where our feelings originate. Feelings such as discomfort, anxiety, nervousness, joy excitement anger frustration and resentment (Petersen, 2007). The heart function is our willingness or openness to participate or not participate in the communication process (Petersen, 2007). The head function in listening is our logical area. The rationalizing, thinking, planning and decision making portion. The head processes our feelings and decides which response is appropriate (Petersen, 2007). “Stomach talk puts our feelings into words... Heart talk puts our ownership and openness into words… Head talk puts our thoughts into words…” (Petersen, 2007, p.16). Our ability to listen is greatly reduced by what Petersen (2007) calls “The Flat Brain Syndrome” (p. 23). He describes this as occurring when the emotions of the stomach become overloaded forcing an expansion upward into the heart and head areas, causing the head function to flatten and reducing our ability to think logically and rationally. When this occurs with both parties in a conversation it results in what...