Politicians peddle in, well, I will refrain from using the word, but I think you can guess it. When people go to Prime Minister school, they come out and give vague answers to complicated questions specifically so it looks like a sound bite that can be repackaged by the media therefore there is very little, if anything, that can be taken from what politicians say. David Miliband was a prime example of this. I saw him a few times when he was on the campaign trail in the 2010 Labour Leadership Election. He gave me one piece of advice that I have always carried with me and today I had to put that advice into action.
Listening, truly listening
He was recalling his time as Foreign Minister and talked about when he had to speak to his American counterpart who, at the time, was Hilary Clinton. He said this:
Whenever we had an issue or something to talk about, there was something that set her aside from every other politician I’ve ever met. Most politicians sit there and they are not listening to what is being said, instead they are just waiting for it to be their turn to talk. Hilary Clinton always did something different. She would get out a writing pad and a pen and paper. Instead of constantly butting in and saying what she had to say, she would write down what I was saying, her thoughts and would wait until I had finished speaking before she shared her conclusions. The one thing I got from that was that she was listening, and I mean truly listening, to what I had to say.
Today I had a conflict that was the result of a breakdown in communication. I tried it and it actually worked. I listened. Paid attention and respect to what the other person was saying and managed to resolve things. I would share that with anyone.