It is to the first part of the above statement that we want to focus on this month: “to walk with our partners..” This walk must be a great experience.
The Hebrew prophet Amos in 750 BC posed a fundamental question, “do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” In light of this question, it is clear that we can neither be partners nor walk together if we haven’t agreed to do so.
Carol Naneu, in her very powerful and personal style gives us the key ingredient to this “partnership walk” – Empathic listening. Emphatic listening is beautifully captured by Stephen covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as habit number 5 – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
Lets’s listen to her – empathically.
HABIT 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD – The Habit of Mutual Understanding
The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and connect than the most well-intentioned words.”
Did you know that two people can see a similar thing and form completely different viewpoints because they are understanding “autobiographically?”
“If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say or the questions you are going to ask. You filter everything you hear through your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up. And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means.
Habit 5 teaches us that there is an important effect namely: “There’s another side to the story.”
This habit is powerful because it focuses on what you can control. It’s an inside-out approach. You are focusing on building your understanding. You become influenceable, which is the key to influencing others. As you appreciate people more, they will appreciate you more.
True that, when another person is speaking, we usually “listen” at one of four levels: ignoring, pretending, selective listening, or attentive listening. We should be using the fifth, highest form of listening – empathic listening.
Empathic listening is listening with intent to understand the other person’s frame of reference and feelings. You must listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart.
Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, and to be appreciated.
When you can present your own ideas clearly, specifically, visually and most importantly contextually – in the context of a deep understanding of other people’s paradigms and concerns – you significantly increase the credibility of your ideas. Once we really deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions and third alternatives. Our differences are no longer stumbling blocks to communication and progress. Instead they become the stepping stones to collaboration.
Opportunities to practice this habit proactively occur in our lives every day with our colleagues, customers, clients, partners, friends, and family. Seek first to understand, then to be understood is a difficult habit to grow; however, it can be done through practice, a caring attitude, and an open ear. Begin now! In the next conversation you get into after reading this – Seek first to understand, then to be understood!
Here’s to your financial independence!
Head of Partnership Experience – TSAVO