“Tell Me More”

“Tell Me More”

When we entered a Foreign Service in 1979, my category of 16 new Public Diplomacy officers was taught to favour “the Foreign Service manner,” a habits of tact — listening, accurate reporting, clever speaking, and a certain caring in seeking questions though an edge.  So most of Public Diplomacy is about “telling,” it’s good to

When we entered a Foreign Service in 1979, my category of 16 new Public Diplomacy officers was taught to favour “the Foreign Service manner,” a habits of tact — listening, accurate reporting, clever speaking, and a certain caring in seeking questions though an edge.  So most of Public Diplomacy is about “telling,” it’s good to have reminders about conversations and “listening.”Every day, American diplomats accommodate adults of other countries, drawn from all walks of life.  This event to accommodate people is a gratifying underline of Foreign Service work, though from time to time officers contingency understanding with people who paint nations or ideals we dislike.  Others have upsetting personalities.  Among domestic figures, some are extremists.  Among businessmen, some are unsavory.  Among officials, some are hurtful and dissipated.  Among amicable leaders, some are bigoted.  Foreign Service Officers contingency understanding with them all alike.An American diplomat will always paint conflicting values, of course, though it’s required to contend a cordiality that can keep lines of communication open.  It’s also critical to get to know sarcastic people since they competence paint a incomparable physique of meditative in society.  Washington policymakers contingency be sensitive by Embassy officers who have had a calm to hear during initial hand, and afterwards analyze, a disgusting thoughts.Over a years we schooled it’s probable to inverse and to ask questions in a demeanour that elicits information though lacks “edge.”  A doubt acted with an corner competence be: “Why hasn’t your supervision finished anything to quell a existence of sex-selective abortion?  It’s gendercide!”  An particular with a Foreign Service demeanour would poise it differently.  “I’ve been seeing statistics that uncover that among your newborns, boys outnumber girls.  Have we and your colleagues been examining this?”

Back in a 80s, we watched news conferences and speak shows and rated reporters on their “manner.”  Sam Donaldson of NBC News, antacid and abrasive, seemed incompetent to ask a doubt unless it was provocative and infrequently insulting.  He done a press secretary or a interviewee defensive.  On a other hand, we marveled how Ted Koppel’s pointed and decorous demeanour elicited responses that were utterly revealing, pro or con, on an issue.  (I editorialize from examination new White House press briefings that there are now some-more Donaldson wannabes than reporters who obey Ted Koppel.)

As we grew into my purpose as a diplomat, we came opposite recommendation given by Professor S. I. Hayakawa (1906-1992), who taught linguistics during Berkeley.  He was after inaugurated Senator from California.  His recommendation was to get in a robe of observant “Tell me more.”  Here’s a approach he explained it:

… let us contend that we are sensitive to orderly labor, and someone says to us, “Labor unions are rackets.”  Our evident enticement is to say, “They are not” — and a conflict would be on.  But what is a law value of a statement?  It is clearly conjunction 0 percent (“No unions are rackets”) nor 100 percent (“All unions are rackets”).  Let us afterwards silently extend a indeterminate law value of 1 percent (“One kinship out of 100 is a racket”) and say, “Tell me more.”  If there is no some-more basement for a acknowledgement than a deceptive memory of something somebody once wrote in a journal column, a avowal will hiss out shortly, so that we need not be worried anymore.  But if a chairman does have knowledge with even one instance of kinship racketeering, he is articulate about something utterly genuine to him, nonetheless he competence be vastly overgeneralizing his experience.  If we listen sympathetically to his experience, a following are some of a things that competence happen:

  1. We competence learn something we never knew before….
  2. He competence assuage his matter with such an acknowledgment as, “Of course, we haven’t had knowledge with many unions”….
  3. By mouth-watering him to promulgate to us, we settle lines of communication with him. This enables us to contend things to him after that he competence afterwards be likely to listen to.
  4. Both competence distinction from a conversation.

Hayakawa endorsed observant “Tell me more” and afterwards “to listen before reacting.”  It has a advantage of avoiding inferences (that a nasty remarks uncover a orator is a “labor hating reactionary,” in this case) formed usually on prejudiced information.  Hayakawa’s full diagnosis can be found on pp. 129-131 of a fifth book of his Language in Thought and Action.

Hayakawa’s warn reminded me, too, of a thoroughfare in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography.  Discussing his plan for personal dignified improvement, he said:

I done it a order to halt all approach counterbalance to a sentiments of others, and all certain avowal of my own.  I even dissuade myself … a use of each word or countenance in a denunciation that alien a fix’d opinion, such as certainly, undoubtedly, etc., and we adopted, instead of them, we conceive, we apprehend, or we suppose a thing to be so or so; or it so appears to me during present.  When another asserted something that we suspicion an error, we deny’d myself a pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of display immediately some stupidity in his proposition; and in responding we began by watching that in certain cases or resources his opinion would be right, though in a benefaction box there appear’d or seem’d to me some difference, etc.  I shortly found a advantage of this change in my manner; a conversations we engag’d in went on some-more pleasantly. The medium approach in that we propos’d my opinions procur’d them a readier accepting and reduction contradiction; we had reduction penance when we was found to be in a wrong, and we some-more simply prevail’d with others to give adult their mistakes and join with me when we happened to be in a right.

If this recommendation appears to quell forthrightness, it’s since diplomats try to equivocate giving unintended offense.  Rest positive that Foreign Service officers can be splendidly blunt and approach — intentionally — when delivering demarches as member of a U.S. government.  In typical transactions, however, seeing a recommendation of a California senator, practicing a character of Poor Richard, and observant “Tell me more” is good advice.

(This letter creatively seemed on a Public Diplomacy Council website on Feb 4, 2014.)

Donald M. Bishop

Donald M. Bishop is a Bren Chair of Strategic Communications during Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia.
Mr. Bishop served as a Foreign Service Officer – initial in a U.S. Information Agency and afterwards in a Department of State – for 31 years. Read More

aircraft conduit engulfed in smoke
Photograph of Herb Romerstein

Article source: https://www.publicdiplomacycouncil.org/2018/05/22/tell-me-more/

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Article source: https://www.publicdiplomacycouncil.org/2018/05/22/tell-me-more/

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