A client recently introduced me to Habit 5 of Franklin Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® and it has been on my mind ever since. It is so simple, and yet so insightful. When you seek to understand, you engage – open, ready to listen, and learn. You are not seeking to react or defend, but to approach a situation or conversation with empathy, to educate yourself, to collect facts and insights. If done correctly, you are actively listening, drawing out detail and nuance, being genuinely curious.
By delaying your chance to be understood, withholding your need to have your voice heard, your point of view accepted, you are allowing yourself to respond, with less impulse and emotion. When it is your opportunity to be understood, it can be done in response to another’s position previously shared.
If we could all talk less, could we find more common ground, the opportunity to find areas of agreement? If we truly listen to another, to their full story, would we be better equipped to weigh in with more meaningful guidance, direction, and thoughtful solutions? How often do we jump to be heard instead of fully hearing another? Are we rushing to judgment on a first question when the real challenge is later in the story?
One of the greatest gifts we can give another is time. It takes time to understand, to gather relevant data and key facts, to be fully present. How much more meaningful might our interactions be with each other if we indulged a little more time to listen more
One thing we are missing during this time of remote work and limited in-person connections are the informal moments that we would indulge each other in the hallway at work, debriefing at the end of a meeting, running into each other at a restaurant or child’s practice. We might linger at the conference table, break room or parking lot to check-in and hear what is going on. Today, we merely hit ‘Leave’ at the end of the Zoom and we are gone. No P.S. No afterthought. No time.
Maybe we can all set an intention to understand more this year: differing viewpoints, the world through someone else’s eyes, experiences unlike our own. In doing so, the hope is that through understanding, we might find more commonality, a path forward, solutions that are based on understanding. To accomplish this intent, remember that we have two ears and one mouth: let’s try to listen twice as much as we speak.