Hi folks, my name is Rob and welcome to IMPACTfull Life, where we help YOU make an impact so you can lead a full life. Today we are continuing our series on Dr. Stephen Covey's best-selling book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." Over the past few weeks we've been breaking this book down and taking a look at each of the 7 habits, and I hope you've been following along.
In our last 2 posts we've been discussing the 5th habit and I shared an impactful quote with you to inspire you to work on this Habit. Today I'm going to give you an action to work on this habit.
According to Dr. Covey, who wrote this book nearly 30 years ago, this habit is the key to effective communication. In fact, he says this one habit is the single most important principle he's ever learned in the field of interpersonal relations.
He also says there are basically 4 types of communication. Reading, writing, speaking and listening. He points out that most of our waking hours are spent doing one of these 4 things, and the ability to do them well is absolutely critical to our effectiveness. What's interesting is that we spend years learning how to read, write and speak, but we're given very little training or education on how to listen. In fact, most people receive zero instruction on how to really pay attention and understand another person.
If you've read our last 2 posts (or watched our last 2 videos), you've heard me talk about Empathic Listening. I'm not going to go over it again, but feel free to go back and check those out if you want. I WILL tell you that just like reading, writing and speaking, empathic listening is a skill that can be improved through practice.
The suggestions that Dr. Covey lays out in this chapter all deal with trying to understand the other person's point of view by paying close attention to your interactions, or by watching other people interact. While all of his ideas are good actions to take, the one I want you to try out this week involves selecting a person close to you and letting them know that you're trying to improve your listening skills and you want their help.
Explain to them that your intention is to really listen with the goal of understanding first and that you'd like for them to give you feedback. For one week, pay close attention to your interactions and really work on showing empathy. Listen to the other person without judgment and without planning what you're going to say next. Once the week is up, ask the person to give you an honest assessment of how you did. Then ask them how it made them feel.
If you do this exercise, it's going to feel weird at first. We are so programmed to listen with the intent to reply that it feels awkward not to do it. When you truly focus on trying to understand the other person without the pressure of having to figure out what you're going to say next, it frees you up to enjoy the conversation more. To enjoy the other person more. To make the interaction more effective. And it's a huge deposit in the other person's Emotional Bank Account.
I strongly encourage you to give that a try and I'd like to know how it turns out for you. Please share your results in the Comments section. Do you plan to work on your ability to listen with empathy and understand first? Have you had any success with this in the past? Well if so, I want you to share your experiences with us so we can learn from you. If you struggle with this and want some help, reach out to the IMPACTful Community and let us know what you need help with.
Remember: Seek first to understand, then to be understood so you can start to make an impact and lead a full life.
I'll see you next time, thanks again for reading, now go make an impact!
To grab a copy of this book, click here.
Check out our IMPACTful Actions Playlist on YouTube for more ideas on how to make an IMPACT and lead a full life.