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Seek First To Understand

For years one of my fellow Toastmasters, by the name of Fred Schuck has been insistent that we need to “seek first to understand” the people we meet and interact with. On September 11th, yesterday, my daily reading included this from Stephen R. Covey’s “Daily Reflections For Highly Effective People”.

“Seek first to understand involves a very deep shift in paradigm.  We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.” 

How many times do we run into trouble with others because we view them from our experiences, our understanding, instead of taking the time to know them and their views better.  Have you ever walked away from an argument or discussion saying, “That person just doesn’t understand”?  When you think back on that moment now, did you really take the time to listen to that person to find out more about them so that you could understand where they are coming from.  I know that I have been guilty of this.

Yesterday many of us reflected on events that happened 18 years ago which changed the world as we know it.  We asked questions that we could not answer.  We sought answers to things we did not understand.  At that time, and since then, we accused innocent people of things they didn’t do because they belonged to a particular race of people. 

It is time to stop.  It is time to seek to understand, to learn, to grow, to become more. It doesn’t mean that we will agree.  It doesn’t even mean that things will immediately change when we do this.  But it’s a start.  And it begins with you…and me.  In a song I heard recently the words go something like this –“if not us then who, if not me and you.  If not now, then when will it ever end”

Seek to understand others

To better understanding of those we live with and work with and meet today.

Fran Watson


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