Habit 5, Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood, One On One

Author’s quotes:

“Habit 5 is powerful because it is right in the middle of your Circle of Influence. Many factors in interdependent situations are in your Circle of Concern—-problems, disagreements, circumstances, other people’s behavior. And if you focus your energies out there, you deplete them with little positive results.

But you can always seek first to understand. That’s something that’s within your control. And as you do that, as you focus on your Circle of Influence, you really, deeply understand other people. You have accurate information to work with, you get to the hear tof matters quickly, you build Emotional Bank Accounts, you give people the psychological air they need so you can work together effectively.

It’s the inside-out approach. And as you do it, watch what happens to your Circle of Influence. Because you really listen, you become influenceable. And being influenceable is the key to influencing others. Your circle begins to expand. You increase your ability to influence many of the things in your Circle of Concern.

And watch what happens to you. The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.

Habit 5 is something you can practice right now. The next time you communicate with anyone, you can put aside your own autobiography and genuinely seek to understand. Even when people don’t want to open up about their problems, you can be empathic. You can sense their hearts, you can sense the hurt, and you can respond, ‘you seem down today.’ They may say nothing. That’s all right. You’ve shown understanding and respect.

Don’t push; be patient; be respectful. People don’t have to open up verbally before you can empathize. You can empathize all the time with their behavior. You can be discerning, sensitive, and aware and you can live outside your autobiography when that is needed.

Seek first to understand. Before the problems come up, before you try to evaluate and prescribe, before you try to present your own ideas—-seek to understand. It’s a powerful habit of effective interdependence.

When we really, deeply understand each other , we open the door to creative solutions and third alternatives. our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead, they become the stepping stones to synergy.”

Personal comments:

Covey said, “but you can always seek first to understand”, but we do differ on this: When I was a Commission On Aging board member a situation occurred where I was threatened (by another board member), and in response, I tried to understand by seeking a meeting with the individual, but was rejected, more than once. Keep in mind that some do not want to be understood (as was the case with this person). Those nasty hidden agendas of theirs get in the way.

Another Covey statement, “you can put aside your own autobiography and genuinely seek to understand”: Almost impossible for some to do so. Personal experience is they feign interest in me, then use the “opening” to begin another round of their autobiography. Sound familiar? It should since we either know someone like that or we are one. Great example is those who interrupt others in mid-sentence, repeatedly.

Next: Habit 6
Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
Principles Of Creative Cooperation

Social Style Summary, Guidelines For Recognition

Again, this session is to help understand the basic four social styles, and to learn how to relate to each to ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’.

Social Styles Summary

Social Styles is a study of behavior (words, tone, body language). We can’t know what people are thinking or how they are feeling, but we can see behavior, so we focus on that.
We have a “home-base” social style but depending on whom we are interacting with we will find ourselves in all four social styles, temporarily.
When we leave our “home base” it increases our tension and stress, but we leave our “home” so we can effectively interact with those who have different “home-bases”.
Tension and stress is increased when we leave “home-base” and so we must return to our “home” as soon as possible to relieve that stress.
The ability to move freely from one social style to another is called Versatility.
I’ve found this study of social styles using 2 dimensions is the easiest process I know for successfully identifying behavior correctly.
This process can be used in all social or professional interaction to improve relationships, increase sales, control meetings, and reduce stress.

Guideline for Recognition

There are 4 basic social styles; Amiable, Analytical, Driver, Expressive.
Recognition is most accurate by observing one dimension at a time.
These social styles are recognized using 2 dimensions; Assertiveness, and Responsiveness.
Amiables and Analyticals are “Ask” Assertive on the Assertiveness scale, which means they
Ask questions more often than make statements
Speak slowly
Seldom interrupt others
Pause before answering questions
Seldom uses voice to emphasize
Tend to lean backward
Drivers and Expressives are “Tell” Assertive on the Assertiveness scale, which means they
Make statements more often than ask questions
Speak fast
Frequently interrupts others
Answer questions immediately
Frequently uses voice for emphasis
Tends to lean forward
Responsiveness, the other Social Style dimension, assesses whether the individual is “Control Responsive” or “Emote Responsive”.

Analyticals and Drivers are “Control Responsive” which means they
Limit facial expressions
Have infrequent eye contact while LISTENING
Have minimal body movement
Show a narrow range of personal feelings
Use “fact oriented” language
Limit vocal variety
Use specific language
Business-like, “cool”
Amiables and Expressives are “Emote Responsive” which means they
Vary facial expression
Have frequent eye contact while LISTENING
Have expansive body movement
Show a broad range of personal feelings
Uses “feeling oriented” language
Use expansive vocal variety
Use general language

Personal comments:

My social style is Expressive. I’ve taken the test several times, and have always “landed” in that category. Those of you who know me should observe my behavior to help you get a sense of what I’m trying to convey.

Relating social style to Covey’s statement, ‘Most people, in making presentations, go straight to Logos (left brain logic)’ helps explain why I believe that the styles of Analytical and Driver increases their desire/need to go straight to Logos. Examples include, they are fact oriented, use specific language, interrupt others, and are business-like.

Next week I’ll continue my Habit 5 discussion.

Next: Habit 5
Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
One On One

Habit 5, Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood: Seek To Be Understood

Author’s quotes:

“Seek first to understand…then to be understood. Knowing how to be understood is the other half of Habit 5, and is equally critical in reaching Win/Win solutions.

Earlier we defined maturity as the balance between courage and consideration. Seeking to understand requires consideration; seeking to be understood takes courage. Win/Win requires a high degree of both. So it becomes important in interdependent situations for us to be understood.

The early Greeks had a magnificent philosophy which is embodied in three sequentially arranged words: ethos, pathos, and logos. I suggest these three words contain the essence of seeking first to understand and making effective presentations.

Ethos is your personal credibility; the faith people have in your integrity and competency. It’s the trust that you inspire, your Emotional bank Account. Pathos is the empathic side—it’s the feeling. It means that you are in alignment with the emotional thrust of another person’s communication. Logos is the logic, the reasoning part of the presentation.

Notice the sequence: ethos, pathos, logos—your character, and your relationships, and then the logic of your presentation. This represents another major paradigm shift. Most people, in making presentations, go straight to the logos, the left brain logic, of their ideas. They try to convince other people of the validity of that logic without first taking ethos and pathos into consideration.

When you can present your own ideas clearly, specifically, visually, and most important, contextually—in the context of a deep understanding of their paradigms and concerns—you significantly increase the credibility of your ideas.

You’re not wrapped up in your ‘own thing,’ delivering grandiose rhetoric from a soapbox. You really understand. What you’re presenting may even be different from what you had originally thought because in your effort to understand, you learned.

Habit 5 lifts you to greater accuracy, greater integrity, in your presentations. And people know that. They know you’re presenting the ideas which you genuinely believe, taking all known facts and perceptions into consideration, that will benefit everyone.”

Personal comments:

Social style (behavior) plays a significant role when understanding Covey’s statement that, “Most people, in making presentations, go straight to Logos (left brain logic). Since social style is very important I will divert my discussion from Habit 5 to discuss it in my next post, in order to help readers ‘put the puzzle together’.

Next:   Social Style Summary
Guidelines For Recognition

Habit 5, Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood, Four Autobiographical Responses (Conclusion)

Author’s quotes:

“What a difference real understanding can make! All the well-meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem. And we’ll never get to the problem if we’re so caught up in our own autobiography, our own paradigms, that we don’t take off our glasses long enough to see the world from another point of view.

When people are really hurting and you really listen with a pure desire to understand, you’ll be amazed how fast they will open up. They want to open up. Children desperately want to open up, even more to their parents than to their peers. And they will, if they feel their parents will love them unconditionally and will be faithful to them afterwards and not judge or ridicule them.

If you really seek to understand, without hypocrisy and without guile, there will be times when you will be literally stunned with the pure knowledge and understanding that will flow to you from another human being. It isn’t even always necessary to talk in order to empathize. In fact, sometimes words may just get in your way That’s one very important reason why technique alone will not work. That kind of understanding transcends technique. Isolated technique only gets in the way.

I have gone through the skills of empathic listening because skill is an important part of any habit. We need to have the skills. But let me reiterate that the skills will not be effective unless they come from a sincere desire to understand. People resent any attempt to manipulate them. In fact, if you’re dealing with people you’re close to, it’s helpful to tell them what you’re doing.

But if we are not sincere, I wouldn’t even try it. It may create an openness and a vulnerability that will later turn to your harm when a person discovers that you really didn’t care, you rally didn’t want to listen, and he’s left open, exposed, and hurt. The technique, the tip of the iceberg, has to come out of the massive base of character underneath.

Empathic listening takes time, but it doesn’t take anywhere near as much time as it takes to back up and correct misunderstandings when you’re already miles down the road, to redo, to live with unexpressed and unsolved problems, to deal with the results of not giving people psychological air.

A discerning empathic listener can read what’s happening down deep fast, and can show such acceptance, such understanding, that other people feel safe to open up layer after layer until they get to that soft inner core where the problem really lies.

People want to be understood. And whatever investment of time it takes to do that will bring much greater returns of time as you work from an accurate understanding of the problems and issues and from the high Emotional Bank Account that results when a person feels deeply understood.”

Personal comments:

We can see the world from others’ points of view, but we do not necessarily have to believe it. Wisdom trumps points of view.

Really listening to a hurting person, without interrupting to express your knowledge/wisdom unnecessarily, will pay dividends. Hurting people want us to listen, not interrupt.

Empathic listening does take time, but the Emotional Bank Account investment is well worth the time, and experience.

Next Habit 5
Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood
Then Seek To Be Understood