Discussion 7 – Listening

The Strategy of Listening

This week, you read a chapter entitled “Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood” from Covey’s 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE. This chapter gives you some basic but profound understandings from psychological and social research to help you COOPERATE more effectively with others in relationships of INTERDEPENDENCE.

Covey makes clear that this Habit 5 of “seeking first to understand, then to be understood” can be a profoundly effective strategy in changing you, changing others, and influencing relationships to be more positive and productive. However, developing the skill of practicing Habit 5 takes time. Also, it takes “consideration” to listen deeply to others and “seek first to understand,” and it takes “courage” to then express your thoughts to others so that your views can be “understood.”

Questions to discuss:

1) Do most people focus FIRST on seeking to understand or seeking to be understood? Why? What effect does this have on others?

2) When you “seek first to understand,” and when you listen patiently and empathically to others, it may result in you being persuaded and/or influenced by them. However, do you think it is possible to influence or even change others simply by listening empathically to them and “seeking first to understand” their views?

3) What happens to another person’s defenses when they sense that you are not in the first instance trying to persuade them but rather are sincerely seeking to understand their views with an open and patient mind?

4) In what way can LISTENING be a “strategy” for interpersonal and organizational effectiveness?

5) Can you share a brief example, anecdote, or story to illustrate any of your comments?

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