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Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers - Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Covey descirbes habit 5 as the single most important principle he has learned in the field of interpersonal relationships: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.

Covey describes 5 levels of listening:
Ignoring - not really listening at all.
Pretending - make believe listening filled with "Yeah, Uh-huh, Right".
Selective Listening - hearing only certain parts of the conversation, like when we're listening to the constant chatter of a preschool child.
Attentive Listening - paying attention and focusing energy on the words being said.
Empathic Listening - listening with the intent to really understand what a person is saying by getting inside their frame of reference.

In the blogosphere, we have a number of problems with listening:
1) Our blog is a place for us to speak - listening and clarifying can be done offline, if necessary.
2) We know we have maybe 15-20 seconds of a blog readers attention, are we going to spend it understanding somebody else?
3) We know we are right. If we thought we were wrong we would have changed our mind. Who's got the time to waste with listening?

What we can do is to try to achieve Empathic Listening by responding to what we understood the person to be saying. Email is a good way of clarifying understanding. Giving the benefit of the doubt when reading is also helpful.

Tomorrow, we'll look at the second half of Habit 5.