The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen R. Covey

In our personal lives it is good to be proactive, purposeful and practical. In our lives with others it is good to be considerate and caring. Stephen’s habit 5 is to:

‘Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood’

Just like a doctor diagnoses before prescribing, in our relationships we need to seek to understand, build foundations of trust and foster mutual understanding.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand.
They listen with the intent to reply.
They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.”

Stephen says that in conversations with others what we do not want to do is ignore what others say, appear to listen but not really engage or listen for what we want to hear. He says that what we do want to aim for is to listen, note what others are saying and feeling and best of all listen with the intent to understand. Communication experts say that only about 10% of our communication is represented by words, another 30% by sounds, and another 60% by body language. So to really ‘hear’ and understand others we need to listen with our ears, eyes and hearts.

God of course is the only one able to listen and perfectly understand us all:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
and rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34 verses 17, 18

When it comes to listening and understanding we will not always get things right. Mercifully we can be forgiven for when we get it wrong. God however always gets things right, He hears our words and our heartfelt cries to Him. He understands us whether we are able to express things clearly or not and wonderfully He always acts on our behalf for our best interests.


[Andrew Pritchard-Keens]