When I started out as a reporter, I had to learn to really listen, which didn’t come easily to me. I’m from a family that loves to debate and argue, and I’m naturally opinionated. Early in my career, I found myself frequently interrupting my subjects, but when I played back the tapes of my interviews, I realized that not only were many of my interjections totally unnecessary, but they were also preventing my subjects from revealing information that might have been newsworthy or profound. I gradually learned to just be quiet. What I most want from a conversation with others, whether they share my politics or loathe them, is understanding. It doesn’t mean you hide what you think or refrain from pressing someone who’s being unclear or evasive. But it does mean the purpose of the exchange is to tease out what a person truly believes rather than to win an argument, convert them, or show them up.
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