Seek First To Understand

It has been said, People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I’m not sure who said this but it seems to me it relates to Habit # 5.

Steven covey’s Habit # 5 is Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood. This is identified as the habit of communication. If we truly want to be effective in our interpersonal communications, we have to listen with the intent to understand. Have you ever filled in the blanks or finished a thought when someone is talking to you? Because of my tasky, rapid-fire personality, I find myself having this tendency. I have to be very careful to make sure I’m listening and not anticipating.

An effective communicator really tries to understand the situation as much as possible before providing a solution. It’s amazing how easy it is to spend our time trying to make sure that we are understood before we are willing to take the time to see the other person’s perspective. How many times have you caught yourself thinking of something else when someone is talking to you?

Covey helps to explain this in his simple analogy diagnose before you prescribe. Simple and effective, and essential for developing and maintaining positive relationships in all aspects of life. Covey offers a great example of this in the middle part of the chapter, when he outlines a discussion with a teenage boy that doesn’t go good. The problem is that they’re speaking to two completely different things: the boy is having difficulty expressing his problem, while the parent is already trying to guess at the solution.

What can be learned? Don’t stab at solutions until the full story is told. If someone comes to you with a situation, hear them out; often it requires the full story and some questions before the correct plan of action is revealed. This means listening and attempting to see the situation from the speaker’s perspective, not just your own.

This habit is one of the greatest relationship builders possible. If we will simply stop and take the time to understand others before offering a comment or solution, we will build tremendous relationships. It takes empathy, courage and patience to listen with an intent to understand. Will you Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood?

Have an awesome day.

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