Sunday, March 8, 2015

Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood (Stephen Covey) - Day 7: 100 Days of Leadership

Seek first to understand, then to be understood (Stephen Covey). Contrary to what the leadership axiom suggests, Covey says we typically seek first to be understood rather than to understand. We love to get our point across, suggest solutions to problems and voice our concerns. Consequently we end up not listening and we miss what others are trying to communicate. 

We need empathic listening skills to effectively harness this concept. Let me say it again; seek first to understand before you seek to be understood. 

As I started my training as a Salvation Army Cadet, the first speech ever given to me, was, ‘The most important aspect of leadership is: listening.’ I didn’t want to hear it back then. You could say I wasn’t listening. Stephen Covey’s leadership axiom goes one step further. Don’t just listen, but seek to understand. Don’t just nod your head, but embrace the content. Don’t just be thinking about biscuits and Pepsi when someone is talking with you. Seek to understand.

What does the Bible say?

Matthew 17:1-5 - After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

What will I do now?

Make a promise to yourself. The next time you are in conservation with someone (be it a leadership situation or not), choose to seek first to understand, then to be understood.

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