The British actor is being heavily criticized for his terrible answers during an interview at last night's Oscars.
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As usual, the Oscars created a few headlines, and not for the movies they’re meant to honor. The press and social media have been filled with comments about the terribly awkward interview between the British actor, Hugh Grant, and the model and TV presenter, Ashley Graham.
Scrolling the various news feeds, Grant was seen as being the villain of the piece. He didn’t respond to Graham’s questions as many stars might have.
Now, whether it is because I’m a Brit and I sort of understand the humor of my fellow countryman, or because I’ve interviewed a number of people myself, I think the attack on Grant is unjustified. It’s clear to see that the actor was uncomfortable with the line of questioning, which was a little vacuous and superficial.
It seemed to me that he made an effort to answer the questions that were ill-prepared and not at all relevant to the kind of person he is. (After all, one of the main jobs of an interviewer is to thoroughly research the person they’re talking to, and to understand what sort of questions will be suitable, and certainly, what sort of questions should be avoided.)
Many people stated that Grant’s responses were sarcastic, or withering. I thought he answered the best way he could and that he couldn’t wait for it to be over. He smiled and seemed to do his best to give some sort of response, even if this was not appreciated by the worldwide audience.
But we should consider what lessons can be learned from the whole experience.
Firstly, when we want to learn more about someone, we should think about what that person may want to reveal about themselves or their lives, and not what we might want to know.
This might require multiple forms of listening, not just the words that come from someone’s mouth, but observing their body language and learning what they’ve been comfortable talking about in the past.
Nobody, no matter their status in life, should have to share parts of their lives they don’t want to, even if we live in a world where some readily share intimate details of their lives with millions of people they don’t know.
And in response to those who are criticizing Grant for his part in making the interview painful viewing, I’m going to share a recent Facebook post by Elizabeth Scalia that, although broader in meaning, is relevant for all sorts of situations:
Simple rule: don’t presume to know what someone else is thinking. It tempts the presumption that you also know their heart. Which tempts you to presume you know the state of that person’s soul. You don’t know any of it.
We don’t know what was going through Grant’s mind when he was being questioned. Perhaps he thought the questions were ridiculous. Perhaps he didn’t want to be interviewed, and it was thrust upon him. Or perhaps his replies were just his way of trying to manage an awkward situation.
This is something we should take into our own lives: we never really know what’s in another person’s mind, let alone soul. And we certainly shouldn’t make judgements based on these presumptions.