We're in week five of the seven week series of the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. Habit #5: Seek first to understand than to be understood.
I personally think that this is one of the most important habits and every human being should learn how to master. Our relationships would go so much better. As a psychologist outside of the executive coaching role I see a lot of people who really get caught up in what Covey referred to as "the thick of thin things," and one of the places that they get caught up is when they stop listening to their partner. It happens all the time, and I'm sure that you've experienced that in your business life as well.
"Seek first to understand than to be understood" is about really listening to understand, not to respond or to wait for the other person to stop talking so that you can fill the space with your voice. You really want to understand, and it's not just the transactional words that you hear, it's also the underlying emotions that go with it. One way that you know that you've really mastered this habit is when you can tell the person who just told you something in better words than they gave it to you. So you can explain not only what they said but what they meant, how they felt, all those types of things. It's really "seeking first to understand than be understood". It also puts you in a place where you have to allow yourself to become vulnerable. Vulnerable to be influenced by this other persons decisions, opinions, perspectives. You don't ever have to argue with them, there's nothing to argue here.
This is all about "seeking first to understand". It's part of the public victories, and it's what keeps us strong and interdependent in our relationships.
So again, have fun with habit #5, see how well you do with it, and I'll talk to you next week about Habit #6!