Stephen Covey’s classical bestseller, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” contains a wealth of insights and tips that would improve any reader’s life.
One of his findings was that successful people “seek first to understand” and have the patience to put being understood on the backburner. Granted, this is easier said than done, but it is probably the best investment in meaningful communication you would ever make. Knowing where people come from and why they hold certain opinions, gives one an insight into their value system and their deeper message.
Therapists would tell you that no person can open up completely if he or she doesn’t feel safe. The best way to make a person feel safe is to give him or her your undivided attention – and particularly your ears. This means that you have to be a good listener, being willing to hear the entire argument without interrupting and ensuring the talker that you sincerely want to understand not only the message but also the messenger.
Listening is a skill one could learn and practice.
Initially, you will experience frustration, particularly when you disagree with the talker. However, the moment you change your attitude to a sincere need to understand, listening will become easier. As you wait for the talker to finish his or her story, you will experience a release of pressure – because it is no longer your responsibility to convert or persuade. Gradually you will become a more peaceful person and you will feel how you enhance the quality of your communication but also your relationships.
Before you know, the other person will open the door for you to share your story.