Sunday, January 18, 2009

Seek First to UNDERSTAND, then to be UNDERSTOOD ~ E Communication

Communication is one of the most important skill in life. We spend most of our waking hours communicating. If we want to interact effectively with others, to influence others, we first need to understand them. 'Seek first to understand' involves a very deep shift in paradigm. We often seek first to be understood. Most of us do not listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.
When another person speaks, we are usually 'listening' at one of four levels. We may be ignoring another person, not really listening at all. We may practice pretending. We may practice selective listening. Or we may practice alternative listening. But very few of us practice the highest form of listening, 'empathic listening'. By empathic listening, mean listening with intent to understand. According to communication experts in empathic listening, we listen with our eyes and with our heart. We listen for feeling, for meaning.

This habit is powerful because it exists right in the middle of our circle of influence. Many factors in independent situations are in our Circle of concern-problems, disagreements, circumstances, other people's behavior. And if we focus our energies out there, we deplete them with little positive results.

We can always seek first to understand. That's something within our control. And as we do that, as we can focus on our circle of influence, we really, deeply understand other people. We get to the heart, of matters. We talk with each other quickly. We give people the psychological air, they need so we can work together effectively.

  • Educators take something simple and make it complicated. Communicators take something complicated and make it simple. ~ John C Maxwell

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