In his seminal book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” author Stephen R. Covey explored a number of habits he believed people needed to practice in order to be successful in life. One of those habits is” Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.”
Amid the turbulence we are presently experiencing at seemingly every level of our lives, it is tempting to make ourselves heard above the surrounding noise. We attack problems from our perspective, offering advice, and submitting solutions before tying to truly understand others through listening emphatically. In other words, we listen with the intent of replying. Too often, conversations are merely a means to get our individual ideas and perspectives out on the table rather than effective two-way communication that involves twice as much listening and half as much talking. Solving problems requires understanding. To understand, we must learn to listen with empathy to others, especially those whose perspective and experience differs drastically from our own.
Striving to understand people demands being considerate of others and their differing perspectives. It requires a willingness to accept a diversity of opinions and inclusivity of ideas.
1. Evaluate: Agree or disagree with what is said.
2. Probe: Ask questions from our own frame of reference.
3. Advice: Give counsel based on our own experience.
4. Interpret: Try to figure out the person’s motives and behavior based on our own motives and behavior.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
In the turbulence that has struck our nation and spread throughout the globe, I see a lot of people talking—indeed shouting—without much listening with the intent to understand.
Each side seems only interested in making their point and the record needle appears to be stuck grinding in the same groove. To solve our problems, we’re going to need to start listening, rather than waiting for the other person to quit shouting long enough for us to shout back.
While it takes practice to learn how to listen with empathy, Covey contends that it takes far more time to correct misunderstandings and to live with unresolved problems.
As Christians, we are called to love others. Our love should model the love that God demonstrated to us and not one ounce less. We should speak truth and be beacons of hope that calm the storms other people are facing. Amid the growing unrest, we need to be voices of faith and vessels of peace. We can make a difference, but we cannot sit on silently on the sidelines, hoping it will all go away.
God bless you and those you love in the week ahead. May we look to God for help because we need Him now more than ever.
The Devotional Guy™