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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Seven Habits of Highly Successful People

Title: Autumn (2004)
Media: Acrylic

One of the "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" that Stephen R. Covey talks about in his book is -

"First seek to understand before being understood"
This is about learning to listen empathetically in order to enhance communication.
If we all stopped for a minute - took the time to listen to the other person and make an open minded effort to really understand them, before we try and get them to understand us it would make a huge difference to all our communications.

When people are listening they are often just waiting with the intent of replying - they already know what they are wanting to say regardless of what the other person is saying to them. There are different levels of listening - ignoring, pretending to listen, selective listening, active listening and the highest form - empathetic listening.

Empathic listening is listening with intent to understand the other person's frame of reference and feelings. You must listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart. One of the greatest needs people have is to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated and to be appreciated.

Empathetic listening is about mimicking the content of the conversation , rephrasing it, repeating it back to them to check that you understand what the person is saying and how they are feeling, - remaining open minded and non judgemental. The key is genuinely focusing on the welfare of the individual to whom you are listening.
Once you have done this - then is the time to seek to be understood. The sequence for effective communication is to firstly have personal credibility then empathy and lastly logic. When you present your own ideas clearly, specifically, visually and in the context of a deep understanding of their concerns - you significantly increase the creditability of your ideas.

When we really deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and alternatives. Our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead they become the stepping stones to synergy.

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