The Impact of Listening in Crisis and Politics with Matt Krayton

Politics is often described as a tough world to be in, filled with heated debates and difficult conversations. Navigating through these challenging situations can be a daunting task. However, there is a key element that plays a vital role in this process – that is listening.

Our guest on the listening SUPERPOWER podcast, Matt Krayton is the Founder of Publitics, a public affairs, political, PR and strategy consultancy. He provides counsel to campaigns, candidates, elected officials, executives, founders, organizations and brands. Most recently, Matt worked with Biden for President on special projects including having helped create the viral “We Just Did” hat and collateral for endorsements including NBA star Ben Simmons. His work on the campaign was recognized with a Campaigns and Elections Magazine Stanley F. Reed Award.

He is currently an adjunct professor in Centenary University’s Business Department, teaching in their first-of-its-kind social media program. Prior to founding Publitics, Matt worked at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll and later taught a freshman seminar for political science students and in the Law in the Liberal Arts program as an adjunct instructor.

In this episode, Matt sheds light on the importance of listening and digging down deep to break barriers to truly understand what lies beneath the surface. In so doing, one becomes a credible messenger of the message that can help foster effective dialogue and make a meaningful impact. He also shares lessons learned from running his own business, highlighting how active listening enables valuable feedback that contributes to the team’s growth and business development.

“The strength of any message is built on the ability to understand your audience. ” – Matt Krayton

Listening SUPERPOWER Notes:

01:22 – Recalling that moment when he realized the power of listening

05:46 – How Matt’s choice to listen helped in a heated discussion: It allowed this person to process what they were feeling and see the bigger picture and view me as a credible partner in helping with a communication issue.

09:47 – A client-focused approach that Matt has adopted: The first thing that we do as opposed to offering our take on it is we ask, “What do you think is the problem?” And we listen.

11:52 – Expounding on ‘deep canvassing’ in listening and its impact on hot topics and potential voters. Also, how this tool could support stakeholder communication. 

17:43 – Listening from his point of view: It’s both taking things to a new level, and also building a strong enough foundation to stand on while you’re having difficult conversations.

18:44 – Scenarios where listening helps make a strong foundation for more opportunities to happen

24:27 – What makes him drawn to challenging work: The most challenging situations are oftentimes the most interesting situations to me.

27:55 – Lessons learned from running his own company that relates to the value of listening

35:40 – What does communication and the work process look like within Matt’s team and how does this impact the business culture?

40:33 – Listening as digging down deep: It is understanding that the first thing you hear from someone isn’t always the thing that’s at the core of what you’re trying to get to. 

Key Takeaways:

“If you think that someone fundamentally cannot understand you, then you’re going to have a hard time taking advice from that person because it feels so out of the realm of your experience. That credibility is so important when you’re trying to deliver a message.” – Matt Krayton

“[Listening] It’s really just like building that foundation and making sure that’s very strong so that you can jump off of it.”– Matt Krayton

“I’ve tried to be very transparent about the challenges that I’ve faced growing as a manager, growing a business. I think that has helped opened the door to feedback solicited and unsolicited from the team.”– Matt Krayton

“It’s not about being right. It’s about getting to the right answer.”– Matt Krayton

“You have to have that humility to know that you’re not always going to have the right answer, but you have to be committed to getting to the right answer.”– Matt Krayton

“Just beneath the surface of whatever presentation, emotionally or from a communications perspective, there’s a lot of nuance in how people feel about particular issues. Digging into that is extraordinarily important in being able to break down the barriers that stand between you and whatever endpoint you’re looking to get to.”– Matt Krayton

“If you can be a credible messenger and develop that credibility through listening and empathy, then I think you’re going to be in a much better position.”– Matt Krayton

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