“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.”
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