Seek first to understand then be understood

One of the most powerful lessons I ever learnt was 15 years ago from the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Seek first to understand, then be understood. If I remembered that lesson everyday, half of my problems, half of my drama, half of the emotional energy I spend will not be required to be spent.

It means going through life trying to understand the other person's perspective. It doesn't mean that you would not understand yourself. Rather than trying to make your case, first try to understand how the person feels.

“Can I understand what you doing? Can I understand what you mean?” The idea is if we try to understand other people, we will not find means to please ourselves, to prove our point, to prove ourselves right, to attack, to criticize. We will just see situations in a different light.

If we could just try to say to ourselves, “I don’t want to understand me, I want to understand you first”, it just cuts off a lot of drama. I see the times when I focus on first understanding why did you do this, what were you thinking, anytime I focus on understanding the other person first rather than jumping to my own conclusion, I see the ease, the calm, the trust in that conversation with the other person.

This is a reminder to myself, and to you.

If you have not come across the lesson, seek first to understand then be understood, it will make your life easier.


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