To Understand First is About Respect: The Fifth Habit in Perspective

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Seek First to Understand

To Understand First is About Respect: The Fifth Habit in Perspective

Sofia Arias, from 7th Grade, used to be reactive. Sitting calmly across from her on one of the many tables spread across the school, it becomes evident that this is no longer the case. She projects a very peaceful sort of calm – a measured decorum usually uncommon in kids her age. “Whenever someone told me something, I’d just react,” she explains. “Never taking the time to understand what they were telling me, so when I reacted they couldn’t understand me either.”

Covey’s fifth habit is about seeking first to understand others before hoping they’ll understand you. To Arias, not knowing how to do that made having conversations with others very difficult. It affected her relationships with family and friends. Her time in Coronado International School, and the 7 Habits system, helped her internalize some concepts that have helped make conversations much easier.

“During family dinners my parents are always talking about many things,” she points out, smiling. “Before I’d interrupt just to be a part of the conversation, but now I actually listen, try to understand what they are talking about, and this lets me talk with them. We have great conversations.”

When faced with the question on why this habit is important in general terms, Sofia doesn’t hesitate. Her answer is immediate: “It’s about respect. You need to listen first. You wouldn’t want others not to listen to you, so you need to listen and try to understand them.”

In CIS, we don’t take the teaching of Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People lightly. We know the power this philosophy has in the shaping of more connected individuals, especially when applied to students as young as Sofia.

That, in part, is what makes us successful at what we do: regardless of age, we always take the time to listen. And understand first.

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