Friday, May 15, 2015

Do You Understand?

In Stephen Covey’s landmark book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he addressed “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.”

People form opinions based on their own experiences. Unless they try to understand the other person's perspective, two people can see the same thing and form completely different viewpoints because their understanding is "autobiographical."

I frequently hear Covey’s quote in meetings.  Some people want to listen and find it difficult.  They are so intent on having their own opinion or idea heard that they scarcely hear what others are talking about.  Consequently people decide prematurely what they believe the other person is saying before others have had a chance to say it.

This form of “deafness” causes duplication, mistakes and loss of trust.  If someone can’t be trusted to acknowledge the other person and hear what they’re saying, then that person will stop trying.  They may pretend to participate, then do nothing, and everything remains the same… progress.

“A basic human need is that humans share a universal longing to be known and, being known, to be loved.”  Love may sound strange in a work setting.  Think of it as being accepted and acknowledged.  “When our conversations disregard this core need, our lives can seem like an ongoing, exhausting struggle to influence others to do what we want them to do.”  Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations

 Try this:
·        Ask a question with the intent of wanting to know the answer.
·        Be prepared to be in the moment and nowhere else. Do not scan your emails, check the sports scores or today’s news or play a game on your smart phone. (*We all know what you’re doing when you pull out your smart phone in a meeting!)
·        Listen for content, emotion and intent.  Hearing their words is only the beginning.
·        When a thought jumps into your head, jot it down, and get back to listening.
·        If you miss what they said, it’s okay to ask them to repeat it.

People will really talk to you.  They will be more likely to listen, collaborate and cooperate when you do talk.  This can make your workplace more pleasant and more productive.  If you haven’t already, read her book, Fierce Conversations. Whether it’s with an employee, co-worker, boss, client, customer or family member, your relationships will be stronger.  You will have a better chance of getting what you want.  

Do you understand them?

Ann Meacham, president of Leadership Dynamics works with business owners and executives to clear their blind spots so they will know how to succeed in their business. Contact me: Sign up for a Free Leadership Strategy Session on my website.

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