Say This/Not That

Contributed by Liza Watson.

“Active listening” is giving someone your full attention as they speak. Listening to someone instead of commandeering talk time or simply waiting for the moment to say your piece matters in many communication contexts, especially in persuasion and negotiation. Respond with a question to learn more, and allow space for the answer to come:

Scenario:  You are knocking on women voters’ doors to encourage voting for a candidate who has a good record on women’s issues. You ask which women’s issues matter to the voter and the voter responds, “taxes.”

Say this:  I’d like to hear why you chose taxes as the issue.
Not this:  Taxes! I asked about women’s issues.
Not this: Taxes! Doesn’t the tax scam bill rile you up!

Say this:  [Nothing] – instead of speaking, listen.
Not this:  But (with intake of breath), Wait you’re wrong, My candidate “gets” it.

Say this:  I heard you say taxes are a big problem in your budget.  Would you tell me more?
Not this:  Geez, taxes are bad for me too.
Not this:  We have to vote the buzzards out.

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