I recently finished reading Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it focused on recognizing and living in accordance to the “basic principles of effective living”. I agree with Covey when he states that “people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character.”
As I read, I was able to learn a lot about myself, including weaknesses I’d like to work on. I learned that I am very “left-brained” and tend to focus on logic, reason, facts, and my analysis of those facts, and that I need to work on practicing empathy and seeking to understand the differing paradigms through which others experience and view the world, and to appreciate those differences and utilize them to expand my own understanding and paradigm.
I feel these weaknesses have been particularly highlighted and magnified through blogging, which in hindsight is somewhat embarrassing. I recognize that often my response to comments have been defensive and even combative at times. What readers of my blog don’t know is that in the process of moderating comments, I have received multiple hateful and offensive comments from faceless (anonymous) individuals who choose to make personal attacks instead of addressing points and issues. While I recognize that such behavior can be expected by publicizing my bold and opinionated personality, and feel that I have relatively tough skin, I feel that I have allowed those attacks to negatively affect my attitude and response. I do not share this to justify my weaknesses by any means, but rather wish to provide additional understanding and insight that I hope will help make forgiveness easier for those who I may have offended.
Below are some of Covey’s comments on “empathetic listening” and seeking first to understand, then to be understood, that I found particularly insightful and helpful:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.”
“That’s the case with so many of us. We’re filled with our own rightness, our own autobiography. We want to be understood. Our conversations become collective monologues, and we never really understand what’s going on inside another human being.”
“The essence of empathetic listening is not that you agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually.”
“When you listen with empathy to another person, you give that person psychological air. And after that vital need is met, you can then focus on influencing or problem solving.”