It’s time for habit five of seven in our 7 Habits of Highly Effective People blog series!

If this is the first time you have heard about this series we’re sharing, the aim is to provide a reminder of Covey’s ever-valuable habits, with a personal leadership twist. Each blog gives you insight into each habit and provides tools to help you develop these highly effective behaviours.

Collect all seven habits crib sheets (links at end of this post) for a complete guide to developing effective personal leadership through the lens of Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The habit we’re honing in on this week is number five, Seek first to understand then to be understood.

What is Habit Three?

Seek first to understand then to be understood

Let’s define it

This habit is 100% concerned with listening – listening attentively and not jumping to ‘advice’ or ‘solution’ mode too hastily.

What does it mean?

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

It’s likely that, naturally, you seek first to be understood. We are often so intent on getting our point across in a conversation that we only partially listen to what the other participants are saying. In doing this we are not truly communicating, which leads to confusion, mixed messages and a lack of clarity (not good communication!) What Covey suggests we do is listen emphatically. Listening emphatically is listening without jumping to one of four responses: agreeing/disagreeing, asking (often loaded) questions, advising and interpreting the situation in your way.

Why is it important?

Communication is one of the most important skills in life and one that is absolutely crucial to successful business.

When we listen emphatically we try to understand the situation through the other person’s eyes and in doing this, we can create more win-win situations.

I hope there are some useful things in here for you to take away and have a think about. Look out for the next in our ‘seven habits’ series, ‘Synergise.

Catch up on the other posts in this series:

Habit One: Be Proactive
Habit Two: Begin with the end in mind
Habit Three: Put first things first
Habit Four: Think win-win