The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | Study Guide

Stephen Covey

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | Part 3, Habit 5 : Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (Public Victory) | Summary


Key Takeaways

  • Covey says communication is "the most important skill in life," but most people don't know how to do it well, particularly when it comes to listening. Listening is the first skill in Habit 5.
  • Good listeners are empathic, meaning they vicariously experience the thoughts and feelings of someone else. They are doing more than simply waiting for their turn to speak; they want to understand what the other person is saying and feeling.
  • Many people fall into the habit of projecting their own experiences onto the other person. This isn't helpful because it makes the speaker feel misunderstood.
  • Empathic listening is one of the best ways to make deposits in one's Emotional Bank Account. It gives the speaker what Covey refers to as "psychological air," which is the understanding and acceptance that are key to psychological survival.
  • An empathic listener reiterates the other person's point of view aloud to make sure the listener understands. Only then does the listener offer suggestions or advice, but in many cases, it won't be necessary. Hearing one's views restated by another party can help clarify an idea and help the person figure out what to do.
  • The second skill in Habit 5 is to "be understood." According to Covey "seeking to understand requires consideration; seeking to be understood takes courage."
  • Being understood is all about one's presentation of ethos, pathos, and logos, in that order. Ethos is one's "personal credibility," which determines how much trust the other party has in the presenter. Pathos is the "alignment with the emotional thrust of another person's communication." Logos is logic and reasoning.
  • Covey argues it is impossible to make an effective presentation if one party mistrusts the integrity and intentions of the other. This is why character and openness are so important. Showing vulnerability is the part of being understood that requires courage.
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