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Published:November 27th, 2009 19:22 EST
Frost/Nixon The 5 Ways of Listening

Frost/Nixon The 5 Ways of Listening

By Clayton S. Jeppsen

Have you ever heard of selective hearing? Are there really other ways of listening besides opening your ears and allowing life`s wonderful melodies to permeate your mind? There are actually five ways of listening. Here is your example. The interview we are analyzing was a heavily debated topic at the time of its forthcoming, the 1977 Frost/Nixon " Watergate Interview. Sir David Frost, the interviewer and Former President Richard M. Nixon, the interviewee.


Both David and Goliath used careful and calculated language choices. Nixon - Goliath, however, had no prior knowledge to any of the questions, which produced more candid responses causing a defensive communication on his part. Frost appeared to be more supportive in his communication " he came sling in hand. In my opinion, Frost words maintained more of a connotative meaning, where Nixon seemed to lean heavily on the denotative meanings of his words.


For example, let`s use the words endorse and ratify. Frost stated, Talking about this hush money for Hunt, talking about blackmail and all of that, I would say that you endorsed or ratified it.  Nixon`s reply was, "I didn`t endorse or ratify it." Frost then interjected, "then why didn`t you stop it?"  Nixon went on, because at that point I had nothing - no knowledge of the fact that it was going to be paid.  A web definition for ratify` is to formally approve, sign or invest legal authority in. Frost varied from the word`s literal definition with the intent to use it as a trigger word, to get an emotionally charged response from Nixon. Nixon claimed that he didn`t ratify the actions because he didn`t formally approve, sign or invest legal authority in it. The communication could have failed due to a bypassing, they may have had separate meaning to each of the men.  


Let`s rate them on the five ways of listening. I saw no examples of listening for enjoyment from either Frost or Nixon. Nor did I really observe any listening for information on either side. Most, if not all of the details regarding Watergate had already been divulged, Frost`s basic goal was to get a sign of omission, guilt and perhaps an apology for what Nixon had done. I would say that Frost was exhibiting 90 percent critical listening and 10 percent empathic listening.


Frost was listening to make an evaluation or a judgment based on what was said. Sometimes, Frost would ask a question pointing his finger in an accusatory manner and then make no eye contact as Nixon replied, as if Frost wasn`t listing at all and already had his mind made up as to what really happened, only retorting when, or if it made Nixon look bad. However, it seemed by other symbols he was making and the look in his eye that it felt, to some small degree that he was listening to understand the former president in his unfortunate state. He leaned back in his chair, made red, watery eye contact and placed his interlaced fingers under his chin. As for Nixon, The only level of listening he displayed was precision listening.


This is because he was very watchful and discerning of the questions as they came out. His answers were calculated and careful. Sometimes he would even stop mid-sentence to reform his answers. He appeared to be listening with attention to details that would clue him in on Frost`s objectives.


I give Frost a rating of ?good` for the listening patterns he exhibited. I also give Nixon a rating of ?good` for the listening patterns he exhibited. Frost listened as a hunter quietly checks his snares for fresh meat and Nixon listened as a blind person pauses to investigate vehicular sounds before crossing the road.


Tune yourself in, everyone is analyzing your every word - Be professional!