“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak.” – Stephen R. Covey
Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People presents readers with a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. In doing so, Covey explains how many people attempt to fix their problems by attacking what’s on the surface and not going to the real cause of the problem, which is essentially our mind-set, particularly how we view hostile situations and how we react to them. Further, Covey explains that by creating effective habits, we will change how we perceive and overcome problems affecting our personal and professional lives.
In 7 Habits, Covey differentiates between dependence, independence and interdependence and how they play a huge role in our lives. In essence, Covey argues that we should aspire towards interdependence as it allows us to be independent but to also work along others to ensure that we benefit from others in our lives.
The 7 habits which Covey notes are:
- Be Proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- Put first things first
- Think WIN/WIN
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood
- Sharpen the saw (not a literal saw)
One of the problems Covey notes is the quote I chose to post as the introduction, namely that people do not listen with the intent to understand but to reply. It was and is still a problem for most people, including myself. Covey further notes how we become too eager to share our view and overly-defensive when presented with any argument that is contradictory to our own – many times only trying to convince people of our view before actually understanding their viewpoint. To fix this issue, Covey argues as one of the 7 Habits, that we should “first seek to understand, then to be understood”. In doing so, we could better communication between parties, build character and improve relationships with clients, friends and family.
My thoughts on this book? I thought it was very well-reasoned. There are too many books aimed at changing your attitude towards a problem which is a temporary fix. A few months later, the same problem arises and you are left dumbfounded because changing your attitude just won’t do the trick anymore. What this book does is tackle the issue at the very core. Changing the way you think and how you see a problem, particularly whether it is a minor or major issue, is a much better way to fix issues.
One of the habits that was really effective, was the fourth, namely Think WIN/WIN. As the habit states, you should think WIN/WIN which is in essence an approach to problems where both parties would benefit from a solution to a problem. In that way no one walks away from the problem thinking they’ve been done wrong. Too many times, in our relationships with partners or siblings it’s the age old story of “my way or the high-way”. This habit attempts to tackle this issue and ensure that you don’t end up causing further problems from the ones you’re already facing.
There are easily over one hundred thousand books in the personal development section. This one is without a doubt one of the most influential I have read thus far. I still practice these habits to this day, not necessarily in a literal context, but they form the basis of many of my life decisions. Whether it be bargaining with a colleague at work, understanding why my younger brother does not want to get up from his *ss and find a job; and how it’s best to be proactive at work to ensure your own work gets completed and there are no urgent matters left unattended to, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People proves to be an effective personal development book.
Have you read this book? Share your thoughts in the comment section below 🙂
- Tom Ferriss – The Four-Hour Work Week
- Robin Sharma – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
- Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson – The One Minute Manager
“The principles Stephen R. Covey teaches in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have made a difference in my life” – Ken Blanchard
“The Seven Habits are keys to success for people in all walks of life. It is very thought provoking.” – Edward A. Brennan
“Fundamentals are the key to success. Stephen R. Covey is a master of them. Buy his book, but most importantly, use it!” – Anthony Robbins