Friday, December 9, 2022

How to Listen First: A Summary of Habit 5 of 7 Traits of Highly Effective People

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The thought “seek first to understand, then to be understood” is easy, nevertheless it takes iron self-control to hear first. I do know, I’ve been making an attempt for 17 years!

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Sid Kemp is a enterprise marketing consultant and creator of 10 books on venture administration and enterprise success.

In The Seven Habits, a Practical Summary, Habit 5 is “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” Here’s how to hear efficiently.

Daniel Fontenele through Unsplash

Success Through Listening

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If you consider it, we achieve life by listening. On a private stage, individuals love to be listened to. So, if we hear to them, they really feel understood and so they like and recognize us. On a enterprise stage, listening is commonly the important thing to success.

How Listening Can Help a Person Succeed

  • A waiter or waitress listens intently, will get the orders proper, takes care of the shoppers, and makes larger ideas.
  • A psychologist or another care skilled helps individuals—and succeeds professionally—by listening and understanding.
  • A laptop programming or net design providers firm succeeds extra by listening to the shopper to give them what they actually need than by delivering a canned resolution.
  • An efficient salesperson or negotiator succeeds extra by listening and utilizing what he understands than by pushing to shut the deal.

I’m knowledgeable coach, and my spouse is a university professor. Even although we make a residing by talking, we achieve talking and instructing by listening.

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, creator Stephen Covey explores this precept for efficient residing and provides methods for real listening in Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

There’s Listening…and Then There’s Really Listening

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Seek first to perceive means much more than simply letting the opposite individual discuss first. Most of the time, once we’re listening, we begin fascinated with what we would like to say whereas the opposite individual remains to be speaking. So we’re solely half-listening, at finest. Or, once we hear, we assume that the opposite individual thinks the way in which we do. Or we actually need to perceive, however we simply haven’t got the endurance and ability to actually perceive how otherwise the opposite individual thinks.

To perceive different individuals, we could have to cease listening from and residing out of our personal story.

Four Things That We Do That Are Not Really Trying to Understand

Even once we imply properly and we would like to perceive, we regularly do these 4 issues, which aren’t about understanding in any respect:

  1. We consider, responding from our personal judgment.
  2. We probe, pushing with phrases to get a response, coming extra from our personal want to perceive and management, and fewer from an unadulterated need to assist.
  3. We advise, giving counsel from our personal expertise.
  4. We interpret, making an attempt to make sense of others from our personal expertise.

Genuine understanding cannot come from any of these, as a result of they’re all autobiographical. That is, we’re caught in our personal story. We can’t perceive others by the lens of our personal story. To actually perceive, we now have to drop our personal story, and actually hear their story.

Having practiced the primary three habits, we have developed self-awareness. Now, understanding who we’re, we will let go of ourselves, and hear with out deciphering by the lenses of our personal previous and our personal worldview. We might be genuinely current, attentive, and compassionate. That is in search of first to perceive.

To be actually profitable, you could study the ability of Deep Listening: How typically can we actually hear?

Mimi Thian through Unsplash

Yes, It’s Worth the Work

This deep listening, this in search of first to perceive – and to guarantee that we’re understood – is so much of work. It takes so much longer than simply moving into and asking for what we would like.

But it is price it. I converse from my very own expertise right here. My spouse and I fell right into a interval of issue and misunderstanding that lasted over 15 years. We caught by issues that others would have divorced over, 4 occasions or extra. And we healed our marriage into a spot of love and understanding that few {couples} ever expertise. From that, we have turn into a pillar of energy for others.

I hope a life of love and understanding comes extra simply for you than it did for me and my spouse. But, in work, or in household life, it all the time pays off, so long as each individuals are keen to do the work. If we, or the opposite individual, should not keen to do the work, then we fall again to Habit 4: Win-Win or No Deal. And No Deal is the most suitable choice.

What makes in search of first to perceive price it? The various is making an attempt to clear up issues earlier than we perceive them. That’s like popping tablets with out a analysis. Ultimately, we get sick. The mistaken resolution makes issues worse, and prices extra in the long term.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: A Recipe for Understanding Others

Here is a recipe for the way in which of listening that leads to actually understanding in order that we might be understood. Being understood, we can assist, and we will additionally ask for what we would like.


“The key is to genuinely seek the welfare of the individual” (7 Habits, p. 252), so we should set our personal agendas and views apart.


If we’re talking to a stranger, and much more, if we’re talking to a liked one who has not skilled us listening properly till now, we won’t anticipate simply to bounce in and hear and say the proper factor and make the whole lot higher. Dr. Covey recommends we put together by constructing these three issues:

  • Develop the pure need to assist others with out “hypocrisy or guile” (7 Habits, p. 252)
  • Strengthen our personal character by being conscious of your personal needs and biases, and cultivating the endurance to give earlier than we obtain
  • Build an emotional checking account by being trustworthy, making and retaining commitments, and expressing gratitude, love and caring. That approach, if issues turn into troublesome as you attempt to break by the limitations of misunderstanding, the opposite individual could have a foundation of expertise that may give them a purpose to belief you and preserve working with you.

Setting the Stage

If we have had poor communication and a strained relationship previously, then it’s best to acknowledge that, apologize, and clarify that we’re making an effort. We might even need to say that we’re studying a e book and studying how to hear higher. And finest to say that we’ll preserve making errors, however we’re dedicated.

Cooking Up a Healthy Relationship

Just as cooking requires chopping, mixing, and heating, so deep listening requires:

  • clear understanding of the main points
  • reflecting again the concepts
  • and empathic reflection of the sensation

Moment by second, we hear first, then present our understanding of the content material of what the individual is saying and our compassion for the way the opposite individual is feeling. When the individual expresses a sense, we share a way of caring and understanding with out claiming to perceive completely. When the individual states an thought, we replicate the thought again to them in our personal phrases, and ask if we have got it proper. We stick with the opposite individual’s ideas and emotions and permit ourselves to be corrected right through.

Our personal caring and belief get mirrored again, and the individual asks us to assist them suppose issues by. People need very a lot to be understood. People very a lot need assist. But nearly everybody has the expertise that others don’t perceive us and that they’ve their very own judgments and agendas. If we turn into an individual who can actually perceive, then we can provide different individuals the expertise that they’ve wanted for lengthy years – an expertise of real love and understanding. I haven’t got kids myself, however Stephen Covey and others who’ve kids and work with them that kids are literally keen to be understood by adults, particularly by their dad and mom.

Austin Distel through Unsplash

The Courage to Seek to be Understood

Seeking to be Understood means greater than in search of to be understood when genuinely serving to others.

It additionally means having our personal viewpoint heard. And if the opposite individual is not going to hear us, or can’t perceive us, or doesn’t agree to embody our wants, passions, and objectives within the equation, then we want the braveness to transfer to No Deal, as a result of working with that individual just isn’t a win for us.

If we’re trustworthy about a lot of how the world works at this time – and all through historical past – we see:

  • People utilizing their data of different individuals in egocentric, dangerous, and hurtful methods.
  • People who intend properly coming from a self-centered perspective, or from self-doubt, and failing to make win-win success occur.
  • People remaining needy and dependent, making win-win success unattainable.
  • People needing the protection of conformity, and being unwilling to attempt inventive relationship.
  • People idealizing individuality and being unable to take part in true win-win synergy.

Given all of this, it takes so much of braveness to declare our imaginative and prescient and ask to be understood. And it takes so much of braveness to attempt, and fail, after which stroll away from one thing that appears good once we see it will not work – although others suppose that it’ll.

Seeking to be understood requires all of the readability, character, and braveness we have developed by studying and training the primary 4 habits. And it opens the door to a beautiful expertise we are going to find out about in Habit 6: Synergy.

This article is correct and true to the perfect of the creator’s data. Content is for informational or leisure functions solely and doesn’t substitute for private counsel or skilled recommendation in enterprise, monetary, authorized, or technical issues.


Sid Kemp (creator) from Boca Raton, Florida (close to Miami and Palm Beach) on September 24, 2012:

I agree fully. I recommend it’s extra a collective downside than particular person denial. “Intelligent” as you employ it here’s a left-brain operate. Self-awareness is a neocortex operate, and nearly nobody prompts the neocortex. We simply, by and enormous, have no idea how. And self-awareness with out that could be very painful self-judgement. If we first activate the heart-mind (a neural middle situated within the coronary heart) producing unconditional love, we will then activate self-awareness with out judgment (the neo-cortex). Then we’re partaking a special kind of intelligence, a clever, loving, and forgiving intelligence with a deeper instinct that may information us on the trail of therapeutic. Using these unused components of the mind, and integrating the entire mind, we heal ourselves, finish concern and projection, and turn into prepared to really be of deep service to others.

The work of skilled care-takers is efficacious at it is personal stage. I work with those that need to go to that deeper stage. If , please get in contact – your feedback have all been most insightful!

visionandfocus from North York, Canada on September 21, 2012:

You mentioned, “To understand other people, we will have to stop listening from and living out of our own story.”

This is sort of unattainable for most individuals. I consider it takes an ideal deal of self-awareness and dedication to engaged on our personal points and clearing them earlier than we might be goal sufficient to be of true assist to anybody else. We venture a lot. We care an excessive amount of. Sadly however realistically, even skilled counselors have their very own points and should not all the time ready to clear them and may get triggered by their purchasers whose points may mirror their very own. With all of the {qualifications} on the earth, an clever skilled can nonetheless stay a basket case. Unless they’re keen and dedicated to engaged on their very own “stuff”, they’re doing their purchasers a disservice. How can that not be apparent? Are all of them in denial?

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