Talk Less, Listen More by Stewart Mednick

Talk Less, Listen More by Stewart Mednick
David Broder died March 9, 2011.  Broder, 81, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and one of the most respected writers on national politics for four decades. He can be considered the greatest political journalist that lived during our time, and perhaps ever, during printed journalism in this country.  His longevity exceeded most journalists in the media, first covering a presidential convention in 1956, and many can remember him back in the 1960s when he was a young journalist and reporter in Washington DC.

He appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press a record 401 times since his first appearance in 1963. Bob Schieffer is the chief Washington correspondent for CBS, and also serves as anchor and moderator of Face the Nation. He made commentary about David Broder and had made reference to a press conference held years ago in which all the news reporters were yelling and fighting to gain the attention of the political figure holding the press event.   Bob Schieffer was a young and inexperienced reporter who observed another young reporter sitting quietly in the back taking notes.  It was David Broder.  Broder was listening to what the political figure was saying and with some intelligent investigative journalism, was able to capture and report a very insightful column on the event and the topic.

The other reporters were so insistent on having the attention to them, that they lost sight of the purpose; to listen and report. Listening.  This is the way we learn.  We listen to other people.  We listen to our thoughts.  We listen to the sounds around us.  We hear thunder and expect a storm.  We hear yelling and expect a fight.  We hear a speech and expect inspiration.  We hear a person talking to us, and we expect them to listen just as intently to our response. Communication is anchored in listening.  The quality of listening is the difference between a narcissistic journalist and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Communication can be the difference between you being the trusted advisor and one of many thousands from which to choose.  Listening is King.  What to say, as a result of the listening, is Queen.

David Broder was often called the Dean of the Washington press corps — a nickname he earned in his late 30s, in part, for the clarity of his political analysis and the influence he wielded as a perceptive thinker on political trends.  His analysis and perceptive thinking are rooted in his listening ability.  Listen, think, speak.  That is my take on how a process of conversation or information gathering should proceed.  If I were to break-out the “Listen, think, speak” process in ratios of time per each event, I would say:  60 percent listening, 30 percent thinking, and 10 percent speaking. This should be a funnel-like process.  Listen as much as you can to gather information and to learn.  Eliminate the fluff and irrelevant gibberish and boil down the relevant information in your mind.  Then, concisely and eloquently speak your thoughts and ask questions.  Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat…. David Broder was as successful as any professional in any profession at the top of his or her game.  Success should be emulated.   Talk less, and listen more.

Stewart Mednick is a seasoned mortgage banker and published author.  His writing focuses on relationship development, personal empowerment, customer satisfaction, marketing and sales techniques. Stewart is available for consulting, personal coaching and training sessions.  If you have a comment or a question for Stewart, contact him at 651-895-5122 or [email protected]