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Seek First to Understand

In an age of constant communication with social media, messaging, and a phone in virtually everyone’s hand or pocket, it is easy to get small amounts of information and react or even overreact quickly. From a business perspective understanding and clear communication is critical both internally and externally, maybe reflecting on some effective habits can be a good thing in modern times.

Media, and more specifically social media, is wrought with communication and miscommunication that turns from opinion to fact overnight. This new model of quick to fill in the facts is having a negative effect on both people and businesses.

In 1989 Stephen R. Covey first published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood seems very aligned with today’s communication issues. In essence this habit focuses on the importance of active and empathetic listening and encourages you to try to genuinely understand information and people before you weigh in with your own thoughts and opinions.

Think about your business or organization. Have you had experiences either between colleagues, or a customer where someone has taken a small bit of information then filled in with their own interpretation leading to conflict? Do you find your self-spending more time trying to unwind misinformation or emotional conflict than you do the actual issue that has come up.

As a business leader going back to the basic Habits may lead to better communication, better understanding and stronger relationships that help build success for your organization, the community, and the region.