A lesson in active listening

Photo Credit: CNN.com


I know I’ve been posting a lot recently about American politics. I can’t help it; the ground is just so fertile. At least this week one of the key players is an Aussie.

Two weeks ago, Jonathan Swan interviewed Donald Trump. The interview has gone viral, even spawning numerous memes.

My favourite part of the interview was this:

Trump: There are those that say you can test too much.

Swan: Who says that?

Trump: Just read the manuals. Read the books.

Swan: Manuals? What manuals?

Trump: Read the books!

Swan: What books?

This exchange is a classic display of active listening. Swan isn’t checking his notes for his next question for Trump. He isn’t scrambling for facts to prosecute a claim. He isn’t rushing to get through his list of prepared questions. He is simply asking Trump for clarification.

The most blistering moments from the interview, the ones that have received the most attention, are those when Swan is actively listening and responding to Trump.

The high engagement levels and the simple follow-up questions expose the gems.

It’s no surprise that I recommend a similar approach in negotiation. Stop thinking about your message and the next thing you will say and start really listening to the other party. The gems are there … you just need to get out of your own way so you can hear them.