In his well known book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advises seek first to understand. To understand someone else, we need to listen to them. In his book, Covey describes an exchange between a father and son. In the first example, the father listens to his son, giving advice and offering his opinion. In the end, both leave the conversation angry and frustrated. In the second example, the father listens without judging. He asks questions and uncovers the true reason his son is thinking about leaving school. Over the years, I’ve shared this example with groups when I’ve presented on the topic of communication. Most of the time people tell me the second example isn’t realistic. I think that’s because most of us have never had the experience of being listened to on such a deep level. It can be difficult to model what we have not lived.
Here is another perspective from Dave Blanchard, CEO of the Og Mandino Group and author of Today I Begin a New Life: When we fail to listen, we miss the opportunity to connect and serve another person. We have our own agenda. We need to solve our problem. We are busy. Our brain is working on our issue and there isn’t room for someone else.
Last time I blogged about the 96 productive periods of 15 minutes we have each week. Here is my challenge for this week: take one of these 15 minute periods and really listen to another human being. Use the words tell me more to go deeper. If you want additional information on how to listen for understanding read Dave Blanchard”s blog post of August 27, 2012.
Let me know what happens by posting a comment.