Did you see the recent Oval Office meeting that included the President, ”Chuck and Nancy”, Mike Pence and a host of live news outlet personnel? Did you watch how the parties in this meeting communicated, or not, with each other?
Listening is an easy thing to do poorly, and a very difficult thing to do well.
One could surmise that the three active talkers wanted to make their points known, over talk and interrupt their counterparts, and make the best impression they could in the reality TV type environment. Stands were made, flags were planted, lines were drawn in the sand. The news media was more than happy to document the sausage being made live.
I don’t think I need to belabor the already made point that this meeting was not very productive.
What does it teach us, or remind us, about listening?
First of all, it must be active. If you really want to listen to someone, and make them feel heard, do these things. Put down everything else for a few minutes. Cell phone in pocket. Newspaper set down on the countertop. Make direct eye contact with the person you want to communicate with and listen to. Did you notice the way the President kept playing to the television cameras? Don’t do that. Look at the person you are talking to.
Listen to the other person’s complete thought before you start talking. Do not interrupt. Sometimes, we are so focused on what we are going to say and how profound it’s going to be that we completely miss the other person’s point!
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. You’ve no doubt heard this before. It works. Get what your companion’s premise is before you try to make them understand yours.
Try to communicate, but not necessarily to persuade. Short of being in a court of law or on a debate team, this is usually the right way to go.
Do not talk over the other person, interrupt the other person, or shout the other person down. I honestly cannot watch some news shows simply because no one on the show has learned to take turns and be polite to others. Sometimes,it really does boil down to what we learned in kindergarten!
Take the high road.
Accept responsibility for your own actions and expressed opinions.
That recent Oval Office meeting was a perfect example of how not to communicate effectively.
Learn from it.