Conversation tip #15: Seek to Understand


Seek to Understand

Have you ever seen two emotional people talk past each other? Both talk and neither listen. Both want to tell the other, and don’t want to hear – or understand – what the other person is saying. This happens too often in stressful workplaces.

Stephen Covey, author of the international bestseller called “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, advises people “to seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Following this traditional wisdom can improve workplace relationships and communication.

What are some techniques that can help understand other people? Here are some tips:

  • Listen first and avoid interrupting.
  • Pause before speaking.
  • Look people in the eye.
  • Be curious.
  • Ask “what” and “how” questions to get more information.
  • Keep the voice down. Stay calm. Talk slow.
  • Repeat or rephrase what people say to avoid misunderstandings.

What are some other tips to avoid misunderstandings or conflicts at work?

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What are some advantages of staying calm at work?

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