Communispace is in the business of listening; it’s what we do. The answers we get, and consequently give our clients aren’t always the answers they hoped for – but they are answers. Here’s the tricky (and at times sticky) part: ensuring a question is asked for an answer, not just a confirmation of a pre-existing thought. True listening means being brave enough to listen to the last thing you wanted to hear; no small task.
The converse of this phenomenon was exemplified (and amplified) by the 2009 Miss USA pageant. The typically benign ball reached a raucous level when a single question, offered by celebrity blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton, sparked a national controversy.
“Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”
The answer from San Diego Christian College student, Miss California Carrie Prejean, stayed true to her belief system as she suggested marriage is best between a man and a woman.
A public lynching, compliments of an enraged Perez ensued. The comment was the talk of Twitter, *bleeps* were introduced in national news interviews, covering colorful descriptors Perez lobbed at Prejean. As Perez has suggested (on repeat), “she should have been better prepared to answer that question.”
Was it lack of preparation – or did he just not like her answer?
Step outside the argument for a moment, there’s a lesson to be learned for brands bold enough to listen: don’t ask the question if you’re not prepared to accept the answer.