Despite our similarities, each of us operates from our own frame of references, set of values, and filters. Safe to say that no two individuals are identical. And frustration results when we talk past each other.
To connect, according to Stephen Covey, one must seek first to understand. This is however easier said than done. It is more than just listening better. Here are three suggestions that help:
- Seeking to understand has to be sincere – a genuine desire to put oneself in other’s shoes. Listening with the intent to reply is not a genuine understanding.
- Seeking to understand by withholding one’s own natural tendency to evaluate, to probe, or to interpret. Listen like a sponge, soaking it all in. No value judgement.
- Seeking to understand requires patience. Understanding happens in measured steps. Drip by drip, gradually. Not in gulps. True understanding can’t happen in a flash.
We all have interesting story that is worthy of discovery. Take that step by seeking first to understand. Do it sincerely, genuinely, and patiently, then there is a better chance for connection.
Do you understand enough about the other person in communicating? Have you tried? How?