My colleagues and friends often tease me for going too fast. I read fast I talk fast. I think fast. (Unfortunately for the sake of these posts, I do not write fast!) As a result, I struggle to practice Stephen Covey’s Habit #5 Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. When I am listening, especially in a group setting, I constantly practice empathetic listening don’ts, instead I naturally judge, probe, and advice Lately, I have begun to physically place my hand over my mouth or bite a finger to prevent myself from blurting out during staff meetings and instead of asking questions or sharing connections and insights as soon as they pop into my head. Even though it is a challenge, I hope to push myself to remove my hand from my mouth to let out positive empathetic listening practices, such as reflecting on what others’ share. I hope that implementing this habit will help to become more effective by listening more to allow the words of others to better shape my views.
Teaching the Habit
For this week’s lesson, Damon and I met over a table of spicy Thai food. By providing personal examples, I was able to easily explain Habit #5. In know Damon participates in group discussions in his psychology class, so I asked him to use that as the setting for this week’s habit implementation. I also know he has a crush on an intelligent girl in his discussion group. We talked about how he could practice seeking to understand in order to really learn from her instead of showing off what he knows. Like me, he thought it seemed ridiculous to reflect statements if he comprehended them the first time. I explained that doing this would actually really help him focus on the words of the smart girl which could potentially help her to feel validated by his empathetic words and like him more. He smiled and said he would try it. I hope eventually he will be able to practice Habit #5 in more challenging conversations.