The Eagle Blog

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

As mentioned in a previous Steven Covey Blog, I am a big fan, most particularly of the “Seven Habits”. One of the seven habits (#5) talks a little about communication and the need to listen.

Often I am amazed at the assumptions that people make, the conclusions that they leap to, without truly gathering all of the facts. Just talk to a junior salesperson about all the prospects that just don’t want to talk to them … 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.
– … and any number of other reasons.

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 micromanager 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 clients 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!

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