Recent political dialogue draws attention not only to the content being shared but also the manner and tone of that exchange. I’m a proponent of Free Speech and First Amendment guarantees. I’m also a devotee of personal accountability and pausing to listen to the inner voice of conscience before I open my mouth and yap.
Just because I can say something doesn’t mean, it’s a good idea to do so. Thoughts I passionately hold don’t require sharing with unbridled emotion. It makes sense to frame them in well-chosen words that invite listening and dialogue. Otherwise, I might as well remain silent.
I suspect that some speakers/writers compose their exchanges with the intended purpose of inflaming passions, inciting fanatic responses, and polarizing attitudes. This generates a great deal of excitement and frequently garners a great deal of media coverage. But extremism accomplishes little more than deepening the righteousness of entrenched positions.
Deep listening demands more than sound waves vibrating on ear drums. Effective communication requires both a committed speaker and an engaged listener. The shortest distance to someone’s attention, is to first provide my attention to them. After I genuinely understand the position of another and demonstrate I can articulate their position, they felt HEARD. Then the roles reverse. Now I can expect the same degree of attention and respect which I delivered.
As we help others to comprehend our stands, to engage with our data and to consider our goals—without alienating audiences—communication results. Perhaps listeners may be converted to a new position, perhaps not. When respect is the dominant tone, partnership becomes possible and everybody benefits.
Questions I ask myself before expressing a communication:
What is my purpose for sharing?
How can attract an audience that genuinely listens?
How will I invite their full attention so they will feel committed to reciprocate?
How can I influence the widest audience possible?
How can I express the point while respecting both myself and my listeners?