I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Seek first to understand

Some time ago I took some workshops all about communication and leadership. All of the facilitators promote the concept of "active listening" - basically repeating back to the person you're talking to. By repeating back what they've said, they feel heard and you get a better understanding of what they are trying to say. The theory goes that you should "seek first to understand, then to be understood." Two recent conversations have highlighted for me just how bad I am at this. I desperately want to just listen, and hear the person out - but my sense of irritation, injustice, or just plain old but-i-know-I'm right keeps me from seeking first to understand. The end result is a conversation in which neither party is listening to the other. Each is repeating their stance on the issue and you end up going in cicles. It was only (in both cases) after the conversation that I realised that I failed to seek first to understand. This is probably why I was left re-playing those conversations in my head and feeling like both issues were unresolved. Listening is a very difficult skill...for me especially since I both want to and feel the need to be heard. Let us all try to listen a bit more to one another today, and take the time to seek first to understand.

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