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Habit #5: First Seek to Understand: Then to be Understood

One of Steven Covey’s most famous books was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

Coveys’ 5th Habit focuses on communication … and the importance of listening and understanding the other party first, before communicating your idea or message.

Often I am amazed at the assumptions that people make, the conclusions that they leap to, without truly gathering all of the facts.

Talk to a junior salesperson about all the prospects that "just don’t want to talk to them" … and the junior salesperson assumes this because they didn’t return a call or two.

If you understand the pressures of the people you are trying to contact you will understand that there could be a million reasons why they did not call back.

  • They might not know who you are. Did you tell them?

  • They might know who you are, but not what you want. Did you tell them?

  • They might not know your phone number. How many times have you got a voicemail from someone who speaks so fast you can’t make out their name or their number?

  • They might just be busy … go figure. So, you need a compelling reason for them to call you back, or you need to catch them live.

  • Yes they might just not be interested in talking to you, but you don't know that until they tell you..

How many times do you leap to assumptions based upon one side of a story?

  • Your son tells you about how mean his sister was … forgetting to mention he bounced a baseball off her head!

  • Your colleague tells you what a micro-manager his boss is … not mentioning that he has missed all of his commitments on a regular basis!

  • Your cousin tells you about the lousy company that just fired her … not mentioning that she was late for work every day and was missing quota for six months in a row.

You get the picture!

Covey suggests that you develop the habit of understanding a situation before talking.

That can be as simple as understanding a client’s needs before trying to provide a solution (how crazy is that!) or it could be understanding all sides of a conflict before passing judgement.

Good advice!

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”

Galileo Galilei

Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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