Be Successful by Utilizing Highly Effective Habits you Need to Know! (Habit 5: : Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood)

Welcome to blog post number five in the series of Be Successful by Utilizing Highly Effective Habits you Need to Know! So far we have discussed the first habit (Be Proactive) , the second habit (Begin With the End in Mind), the third habit (Put First Things First), and the fourth habit (Think Win-Win) introduced by Stephen Covey in his best selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Today we will discuss habit five, seek first to understand, then to be understood!

For us to increase our ability to develop win/win situations and improve our ability to interact with others, Covey introduces us to the habit of seeking first to understand, then to be understood.  He explains that we should seek to understand people and their perspectives through empathetic listening.  He goes on to explain this with an example:

Let’s say you go to an optometrist and tell him that you’ve been having trouble seeing clearly, and he takes off his glasses, hands them to you, and says, “Here, try these — they’ve been working for me for years!” You put them on, but they only make the problem worse. What are the chances you’d go back to that optometrist?

Covey believes that we are doing that very thing the optometrist does in this example when we do not seek to understand.  Essentially, we are prescribing a solution before ever diagnosing the problem.  Rather than doing this, he states we should practice empathetic listening and learn to listen with the intent to understand rather than the intent to reply.  Learning to do this effectively involves great awareness.  After all, Covey points out that communication experts estimate 60% of human communication is represented by body language, sounds represent 30 %, and words represent 10 %.  

After we have done our best to understand, it is equally important that we do our best to be understood clearly and concisely.  After an individual feels as though they were heard and understood, they will likely be more willing to understand your position.  It is at this point that a win-win situation becomes extremely attainable.  Learning to communicate effectively is an essential skill to develop in recovery.  By seeking first to understand and then be understood, we increase our ability to do so substantially. Today you can seek to understand than to be understood! Today you can communicate effectively!  Today you can be successful!

(Photo by Christin Hume)