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Seek To Understand Before Being Understood

Stephen Covey first wrote about this in his 7 Habits of Highly Affective People. He believes communication is the most critical skill we need in order to be successful and in many ways I agree. How often are we listening only to craft our own response? How often, in your relationships, have you reacted before really getting the full story? Understanding someone takes patience and requires an investment in asking questions and, honestly, often biting your own tongue. How you feel is important but if you set up the habit of both people always prioritizing their own feelings over their partner’s, neither person gets heard.

This results not only in a lot of conflict but also in disconnect because individuals perceive opening up as an invitation to be hurt. After years and years of this, it can be hard to find our way back if we feel the person isn’t safe to share with.

So instead of always listening so you can be heard, listen to actually hear your partner. What are the needs being expressed? Is there more they want to share? Why is this important to him/her? I would recommend, even just once this week, giving it a shot. Listen with the hope of really understanding your partner. I think you will be surprised by how much better the conversation will go and how much more connected you will feel at the end of it.

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