‘Seek first to understand then to be understood’
Are you the type of person who is sceptical to new ideas and would rather avoid looking at something from a different perspective? Well it may be time for you to open up and explore the wider options at your disposal.
Keeping an open mind requires us to step outside of our place of ego and consider the other person. As Covey states in Habit 5 ‘We must seek to understand then to be understood’. Only then can we truly make progress in the field of our expertise; family life; our opinions on things and indeed the way we see the world.
This is not to suggest that you become insecure and throw away your methodology or way of doing things altogether. No, No! Rather you reinforce and strengthen your position by taking into account other methods and approaches that are working or successful in their own right.
Our modus operandi is to continue to strengthen and reinforce our knowledge by opening our eyes to the glorious world around us. As Bruce Lee once remarked: ‘Don’t focus on the finger, look at all the glory that lies ahead’. In other words do not get fixated on one point of view or way of doing something. Explore other options that will challenge and not necessarily reinforce our views. We always want to look good before others. We need to feel worthy and part of the pack. Yet oftentimes we must leave the pack and explore new beginnings.
In her ground-breaking book ‘Positivity’, Barbara Frederickson compiles research that favours a positive mind-set over a negative one. This includes being open minded and appreciating other points of view without compromising your position. It opens up the gates of creativity, allowing us to journey deeper into the realm of understanding the very thing we are passionate about i.e. training/coaching clients and groups.
As trainers, teachers or coaches it is important for us to explore new ideas and incorporate them into new layers and levels of understanding. We can look at our journey of understanding as follows:
Information > Knowledge > Wisdom
If all we ever do is look to reinforce the little that we know we become quite shut off from other methods, ideas and way of seeing and indeed doing things. This is called ‘close-mindedness’ and the symptoms are bad mouthing other people and companies; lack of self-esteem; abrupt and always speaking on top of people. Thankfully we can change our ways.
New research as discussed in Principle #2 states that we can re-wire our thinking and create new habit loops. By implementing principles 1-5 we can successfully overcome our limiting and fixed mind-set that is not open to new ideas, methods or ways of doing things.
Remember, this is not compromising or threatening what you know. It is firstly challenging what we know and how we operate in our daily lives. It is neither about reinforcing what we know although that may be part of the process. It is more to do with strengthening our degree of knowledge so we can continue to simplify and apply what we know in the most powerful way we can. Whether it is in the gym, the classroom or the family home.
Learn to listen. One such method is called ‘empathic listening’. This is where you have no particular agenda to probe and any such method that do not build trust and connection with the other person.
In empathic listening we allow the person ‘psychological air’ as Stephen Covey puts it. We look to understand their point of view by being totally immersed in what that person has to say. Then we look to clarify their position or point of view before offering advice.
You will be amazed at how this will open up a new level of trust and connection by simply seeking their point of view which in turn allows you to be better understood.
If you have not read or come across it yet, 7 habits of highly effective people offers a system of dealing with this matter. Through the principles of effectiveness which are: Respect, Mutual understanding, empathy and courage.
To keep a positive and open mind we must practice empathic listening and look to build greater relationships that are founded on strong principles of success.
Reference: Barbara Frederickson ‘Positivity’