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Effective communication is an essential ingredient in building understanding through communication between people. An effective communicator passes a message, influences, motivates and affirms or disapproves the views of the audience. To this effect, critiquing an interview requires a keen interest in details paying attention to the verbal and nonverbal forms of communication of the people involved. In some forms of interviews (Radio) and telephone, studying none verbal communication becomes a challenging affair considering the inability to view the behavior of the participants. In this case, the tone of the participants, their sentence formations, and replies to questions asked may present an appropriate source of differentiation. A review of the line of questioning also presents another source of information on the interview while also reviewing the language employed by the parties also answers questions on the effectiveness of the communication. The interview is also built on the responses presented by the interviewee. Critiquing these responses enhances understanding of the communication skills present in the interviewee.
After Hillary Clinton’s loss of the US elections of 2016 to President Donald Trump, many questions lingered on her life after politics, her political life and her thoughts on the electoral process. Social media was awash with many views with some citing rigging to have taken place in favor of President Trump while others critiquing ulterior perspectives including her gender as the reason for her failure to clinch the top seat. Some criticized her intended approach to governance once elected into office further raising questions about her ability to win the elections. In helping shade more light on these events, an interview on NPR radio was set up. Hillary Clinton the interviewee participated in this interview answering questions posed by NPR’s presenter Rachel Martin. In this academic resource, attention is paid to this interview looking at the approach employed by Rachel Martin in questioning and the responses provided by Hillary revealing the nature of communication between the two and its effectiveness.
The skills of the participants in inducting and concluding the interview are of valuable contribution to the communication process in interviews. In any form of communication, the starting and ending of the interaction provide information on the participants. This phase in communication presents the skills of the participants in terms of induction and closure which may also reveal on their communication abilities (Hargie, 2014). Looking at the interview under consideration, the interviewer Rachel Martin initiates the interview with a thank you message for Hillary Clinton’s acceptance to take part in the interview stating “thanks so much for being here” (NPR, 2017, September 12). To this, Hillary responds with a similar vow reflecting the appreciation of both the participants for the interview. Starting the interview in this manner does not only set a friendly tone but also presents the participants with confidence on their value in the interview. Maintaining this tone throughout the entire interview process is essential in making the interview informative avoiding any possible fallout between the interviewee and the interviewer that would lead to public display of an emotional encounter. In addition to this, premature conclusion of the interview or at times when the parties involved exchange harsh communication engraved in emotional connotations reveals the failure of the interview process. In this case, the conclusion presents a similar tone as that initiated at the beginning with Rachel thanking Hillary for her participation as similarly indicated by the interviewee.
The interviewer having set the temper of the interview through the introductory parts with the salutation, the line of questioning presents yet another pitfall that increases possibilities of failure to maintain this mood. Hargie (2014) affirms that questions act as the DNA of any interaction between parties. The author further affirms that the absence of questioning increases the possibilities of the communication organism to increasingly become unstable and eventually fail. Hargie reveals questions as an interrogative approach to communication. In interviews, the line of questioning is essential calling for the careful selection of words to prevent possible misinterpretations that may lead to a fallout between the interviewee and the interviewer. The interviewer also provides further clarifications on the questions for the interviewee to vividly understand the question in order to provide accurate answers that satisfy the audience. In one of the questions, Rachel seeks to obtain an opinion from Hillary on her book and political position in the Democratic Party based on the views of the public on the same. She asks Hillary “have you reconciled that, that people might not want you around as the party steps forward” (NPR, 2017, September 12). Before asking this question, she starts with a narrative on the views of the public on Hillary’s book and continued role in the Democratic Party. The narrative provides clarification on the question and backing of the assertions that the interviewer makes. Hillary responds to this affirming to the audience that she still has a role to play in the Democratic Party. She reveals the need for her to continue providing support to the democratic senators and take responsibility in ensuring the Party continues towards its objectives.
Ineffective communication, paying attention to one’s words and the possible effect they would have on the audience is crucial to maintaining a reputable position in the mind of the audience after the interview. It also is key in revealing to the audience their importance in the life of the speaker especially Hillary considering her position as a political leader. The absence of a video or live view of the interviewee during the interview to provide room for observation of her nonverbal communication especially the body language leaves the audience with only her tone and voice as avenues of understanding this perspective of communication. When asked about the views of the public concerning her continued role in the Democratic Party, Hillary responds first with a tone that would present rather an annoying influence on the audience. Asserting that “well, they don’t have to buy my book, and they can turn off the radio when they hear me talking” may not only sound arrogant and disrespective to some parts of the audience may also affect her position as a leader in society (NPR, 2017, September 12). It also posits a view that she is forcing herself on the Democrats as she further affirms that “I’m not going anywhere.”
Also, setting and respecting boundaries during the interview is essential for success and reflects ethical conduct. The boundaries do not only provide the interviewer with a controlled environment but also ensure the line of questioning is directed by the intended purpose of the interview avoiding possible diversion from the objectives of the interview. O’Toole (2012) reveals that part of maintaining ethics in interviews is through setting, respecting and maintaining boundaries during the interview process. The interview with Hillary Clinton was focused on filling the audience with her views on the elections and her new book. Martin also aimed at establishing views of Hillary on her loss of the elections with details on her views on the reasons why she lost. At some point, Martin asks if she thought her opponent as powerful and purposed to win the elections. Clinton responds with the view that Trump was powerful though not directly affirming to this. Her claims that “he dispatched about 16 Republican opponents who had been governors and senators and successful business people” showed that she recognized the fact that her opponent Trump was well plugged in a major part of the electorates hence his victory (NPR, 2017, September 12). As part of the ethical aspect of communication, prevention of a bias is essential to the interview process. The avoidance of a bias is synonymous with putting the needs of the clients before those of the interviewer or counselor in counseling environment as revealed by Corey (2016). In the interview, respecting the audience of the interview and the interviewee calls for the avoidance of bias in the interview which is evidently applied by Martin. Her keeping of an open mind contributed immensely in avoidance of conflict between her and the interviewee Hilary Clinton.
Conflict skills are essential in building effective communication. According to McKay, Davis and Fanning, (2009) assertive expression and being a good listener go a long way in preventing conflict during interviews. The assertiveness of the participants in the interview is also essential in keeping their confidence up and allowing them to go through the process successfully. An assertive communicator finds it easy to present and defend their position. This needs to come from both the interviewer and the interviewee in cases of interviews. In this interview, the two Hillary and Martin both prove assertive and beam with confidence. Hillary provides responses to the questions with confidence asserting authority that is also evident in her political career. Martin, on the other hand, asks the tough questions that present her as assertive and confident of her line of questioning.
Self-reflection and Conclusion
For successful interaction and a sufficient level of confidence, having enough knowledge on the subject would be the first aspect to consider. The absence of knowledge in this would have resulted in high possibilities of me developing fear and possibly gambling with the questions which would paint a bad picture to the audience. Based on the interview, Hillary Clinton exhibits confidence and assertiveness on the subject of interaction. Her confidence emanates from her knowledge on the subject and having directly participated in the elections gives her an upper hand. Asking me similar questions I would also present a personal opinion that maybe would have been different from hers as I did not directly compete in the electoral process. The level of confidence exhibited by Hillary may also originate from her position in society. Holding a position of influence did not only add to her confidence but registers in the minds of her audience and the interviewer. The interviewer remained focused on her line of questioning and had information about the interviewee considering she is a prominent personality with information on her available on many avenues including online. Also, my ability to control my tone and language would have played in well considering my command of the English language. Difficulties in this regard complicate the interview considering the language is the main form of expression that the audience would find easy to engage with. Effectively responding to the questions and providing sufficient answers is also born from understanding the language and having sufficient knowledge on the subject. I possess this skill and would sufficiently employ it in handling the interview process if I would have participated. I would also pay a keen interest in my word selection when answering the interview questions. Avoidance of slangs would be critical to this process. My biggest problem with this kind of interaction would be control of temper. Some questions during interviews trigger a high temper which may sabotage the process. This is an area I feel I need to develop more and ensure I am able to control my temper during such a heated environment.
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Conclusively, the interview conducted by Rachel Martin was exquisite and impeccably executed. It did not only reflect a reasonable and effective line of questioning but also presented the two as good communicators. Their ability to remain ethical in the interview and prevent possible failure of the process due to emotional attachments and harshness was highly commendable. The interviewer is also charged with the need to remain open-minded and avoid bias in the interviews through a sober and balanced line of questioning. Prevalence of this in the interview did not only enhance its success but also ensured the interviewee obtained fairness. The interviewee also presented their views without bias underlining the critical nature of the interview and the need to inform the audience on the essential aspects of the political affairs of Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Having taken a role in many other interviews before for both the parties involved in this case presents perhaps the epitome reason for their effective communication abilities as evident in the entire interview.
- Corey, G. (2016). Theory & Practice of Group Counseling. Cengage Learning.
- Hargie, O. (2017). Skilled interpersonal communication: Research, theory, and practice. New York: Routledge.
- McKay, M., Davis, M., & Fanning, P. (2009). Messages: The Communication Skills Book. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.
- NPR, (2017, September 12). Transcript: Hillary Clinton’s Full Interview With NPR’s Rachel Martin.
- O’Toole, G. (2016). Communication: Core interpersonal skills for health professionals. Elsevier Health Sciences.