Posted by: kerrywills | July 19, 2019

Seek first


When I first graduated college and started working in consulting, I read the famous Stephen Covey book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” This was almost 25 years ago and I still think it contains some of the best wisdom for people working in business. The most appropriate is “seek first to understand and then to be understood” which means to look to understand the intention and reasoning of something before responding or reacting.

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While this mainly applies to communicating, I think looking for intention is critical in all behaviors. So often in today’s busy workplace people do not do this enough (or at all) and simply react to things. There are many scenarios where people should try to step back to understand the intention as it may not have been how something was interpreted.

  • Why was an email written that comes across as attacking – maybe the person rushed it and didn’t have time for pleasantries or didn’t read it before sending
  • Why was there a meeting that I wasn’t invited to – maybe the agenda was different, they forgot or they thought someone else was covering this area
  • Why is someone not getting back to me – maybe they had a personal emergency

So before we judge and react to a situation, we really must “seek to understand” the intention and reasoning.


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