“Culture encourages us to be aggressive and assertive, but in practice these qualities lead to communication that is devoid of listening, which is the key to exchange.” — The Parable of the Last Word
It is difficult for me not to be cynical when it comes to politics. It often appears the only time real communication and honest exchange happens is during terms where there is a true balance of power in Washington. Set your politics aside with me for a moment – I found this story very interesting from a communication standpoint:
In some ways the national political stage is like a big-screen reflection of the way our culture communicates. Our exchanges are rarely a sharing of ideas because we are not really interested in listening to other perspectives (unless we have no choice). Communication is violent – a wrestling match for the lasting sound-bite — the winning argument. The goal is to be the person, the denomination, the political party that has the last word, the final say, or the knock-out line. Circumstances (and politics) of the November election aside — it is nice to hear both of our political parties uttering words like “compromise” and “concession” — words indicative of real communication. I was encouraged by some unusual lines in the reporting of this story: “‘During a break in their Wednesday closed-door session, Geithner told reporters that discussions were ‘very civil’ and ‘constructive’ and that there were ‘no surprises.'” There must have been some listening going on in that room; I think we could all agree (no matter how you are registered) that more could be accomplished in our neighborhoods and in Washington if we could learn to communicate our ideas in this way – if we really could make the effort to hear each other.