We are almost done with Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Today we talk cover some questions and answers supplied by Stephen’s son Sean at the end of the chapter that relate to how hard it is to implement this habit, when you should be using the Emphatic Listening techniques, and what happens if you aren’t genuine in your attempts to understand.

At the end of each chapter in the 30th anniversary edition Sean Covey shares some additional insights and comments regarding each habit. In this habit he treated it like a Q&A session that provided some valuable information.

Should you use Habit 5 all the time?

No! There is a time and place for Emphatic Listening. Use Emphatic Listening in situations where the topic is important or sensitive, emotions are high, of if you are having a communication problem. It does not need to be used in everyday, casual conversation. It is ok to point out to somewhere where the bathroom is without truly understanding why they need to go to it.

Why is Habit 5 so hard?

It is hard because we are trained and wired to think from our perspective. It is hard for almost everyone. We listen with an agenda and an intent to respond.

Does use of email and text change anything about Habit 5?

Yes! Email and text strip out the tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. from a conversation that help us empathize. It can lead to miscommunication and hurt feelings. Anytime you are dealing with and important or emotional issue, it is highly recommended you deal with it in person or at the very least over the phone.

What if you can’t get to a resolution through Emphatic Listening?

Resolving conflict isn’t the actual goal of Emphatic Listening – understand is. Not every problem or conflict can be solved.

Sometimes when I try Emphatic Listening, the other person feels like I am using a technique?

The intent must be genuine. If someone feels you are just using a technique it will erode trust and work against the relationship, not for it. You must feel confident in yourself to allow yourself to be influenced by this other person in order to truly understand their point of view.

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