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Habit Number 5 Seek First to Understand and Then to be Understood. 

Whew, we’re on Habit 5 in our series about the 7 Habits of Highly effective people. I vowed not to post about anything else here until I finished this book.

I’ve always been a “strategist.” I’ve always tried to figure out what other people are doing thinking, contemplating, scheming conniving. Part of that was probably from trying to navigate some pretty treacherous waters as a child. Between avoiding burning in the fiery flames of Hell  (Thanks Church folk! )or trying to get the highest grade, or generally trying to outwit, outplay and outlast people who I thought were idiots or dangerous- my mind has always run at 100 mph. That’s a bad thing in most circumstances I’m learning :) If I was a general leading an army or a fighter pilot, the ability to run a dozen scenarios a second would be useful. When trying to pick out which socks to wear in the morning... not so much. 


So this series on the 7 Habits for Highly Effective People has been good for me because it slowed me down. Oh yeah and I finished my Become a Runner Class last Friday and ran my 5K on Sunday with my coach and classmates. I shaved 9 minutes off of my 5K time. Now I need to shave off 13 more minutes by December 31, 2013. 


So this week’s habit fits in with trying to outwit, outplay and outlast. It deals with the concept of empathetic listening and learning to see things from other people’s perspectives. Habit 5 is Seek First to Understand and Then To be Understood. 


Covey notes that most of us aren’t trained to listen.  


My take away what my need to diagnose before I prescribe: Before we can give people advice or counsel, we have to understand what their problems or needs are. 

Once I know what the problems or concerns are, I should speak to those problems or needs. 


If you are having a conversation with someone you want to influence, this makes a ton of sense. Otherwise...not so much. 


I guess those  church ladies that were concerned for my eternal soul probably more concerned for their own so they projected their fiery eternal damnation on me. The people who were idiots were probably just seeing things from another perspective and the people who were dangerous probably were dangerous in which case, i can’t be bothered to be empathetic.


But for real, I don’t know if its the 7 Habits or the running three times a week, but I’m definitely not responding as emotionally as I would have in the past. In some cases, I’m not responding at all. THAT’S huge for someone who always has SOMETHING to say.


HA! I guess I finally mastered prudence and tact... under limited circumstances.


Whew I’m almost at the end of this series. I may double up the last two habits because if you’ve been reading the Facebook Page, you know things are popping off.  

Reader Comments (3)

Greetings Blog Mother,

THANK YOU for creating such a positive and empowering series that focuses on self empowerment.

You said:

“…I’m definitely not responding as emotionally as I would have in the past. In some cases, I’m not responding at all. THAT’S huge for someone who always has SOMETHING to say.”

This year one goal is to work on letting go… I’m learning that letting go can be a nuanced and complex process. As I try to cope with and manage the treachery, and cruelty I’m being subjected to, I’d like to keep this statement in mind. A friend tells me to practice “detachment.” I often wonder how detached must one be in this anti-black woman, anti-intellectual, and truth squashing culture our society perpetuates?”

Okay… returning to my surrender and solidarity sanctuary…

Emotional discipline…
Mental technique…

February 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary Ann

And I find myself reading this slowly, carefully.. in a way I had not read it before.
I'm re-learning and sometimes just learning a new, most importantly applying...

My most important one and the one I have to repeat constantly is about priorities.

Thank you

February 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterab

Dear Blogmother,
Thank you for all of your insights and wisdom.What you offer is extremely priceless and I love the fact because it is the internet, it is forever out there and for all Black women and Black girls can read an use what is being offered
The wisdom you speak will help so many Black women and Black girls of all ages and you administered with love, compassion but kick in the rear to get us to moving to have the best life and live well. Others will see us living well and we will become examples for now and generations to come . So again thank you blogmother and keep up the excellent work.

March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShaylah

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