Seek First to Understand

Building strong relationships is critical to every business, every community, and every family. In our world today, we see the cost of poor communication, lack of understanding, and an unwillingness to see another’s point of view. There is more violence and less kindness and tolerance. What will this cost us in our businesses, for our children, and for the world at large?

I have been reminded lately of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. These principles, the book and the training course have touched my life for more than a couple of decades. It isn’t easy to practice and live these habits and one that stands out for me with the world issues today is Habit 5- Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood.

The first half that habit is the most important part— Seek FIRST to understand. How often during a conversation do we truly listen with an empathetic mind and heart? How often do we stop listening to respond and rather truly listen to understand? Not just the words that the other is saying, but the feelings behind them?

If we are to truly put our customers first. If we are truly trying to reach our kids in deep and meaningful ways, we must learn to hear beyond the words to the feelings, perceptions, and thoughts beneath. What we find as leaders, parents, family members, and friends is that what is most often needed from us is our ability to listen with an open and generous heart. That our advice, our “wisdom,” and our ideas are most often not needed. If others are coming to us with concerns, complaints, or ideas of their own, it costs us nothing to “seek first to understand.”

Try it today. Try asking more questions without needing to solve anything. Try to accept that the complaint or concern may be valid so ask enough questions to really get to the root of the issue. It may surprise you just what you find out… including how strong a bridge you are building between yourself and the other person.

To you success!

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