The Eagle Blog

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

Communication quote by John PowellOne 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. 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 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!

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”   Stephen R. Covey

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