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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Towards to a better understanding

Kirjoittanut: Sandra Hyttinen - tiimistä Samoa.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen Covey
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 5 minuuttia.

The book 7 Habits of highly effective people introduces 7 habits that will change the way you get things done. Covey explains thoroughly in 7 chapters how you can control your life with just changing your habits into the right direction. He shares the readers an attitude that you with the help of others can achieve great things, you will just have to get to it. 

The chapters:

1.     Be proactive 

Proactive people recognize that they can affect things. Taking that self-awareness and turning it into action is one of the habits that effective people do. Proactive people are not waiting great things to happen to them, they are working towards those things. 

2.     Begin with the end in mind

A clear goal is crucial if you want to be effective. Having a vision right from the start of any mission will help you take the right steps. Covey writes that you should visualize your goals in your mind in order to achieve them. 

3.     Put first things first

Know your values and priorities. If you do not have your priorities clear in your mind you will not get things done. It is about managing yourself not your time. 

4.     Think Win-Win

In any situation with anyone, effective people aim for a Win-Win solution. This will not only make that one situation turn out good but in addition will make situations in the future easier to deal with. 

5.     Seek first understand, then to be understood

This essay will address this chapter deeper in the coming parts. 

6.     Synergize

By creating synergy, we allow new opportunities our way.

7.     Sharpen the saw

Highly effective people take care of themselves. If you are tired and exhausted, you can’t be effective. You have to find the things you enjoy in order to be effective. I think it sometimes easier said than done. I do want to be that highly efficient person but I´m not. Still looking it thought. Maybe it is too deep in habits or I haven’t wound my deepest motivation yet.


Listen to understand not to reply to it

Covey addresses understanding in chapter number five. The chapter is called “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Covey’s key point in this chapter is that everyone should learn how to listen to each other before getting their own opinions out. In a discussion we tend to want to give advice, opinions, and solutions without listening to the story. We are in a hurry to answer before we even know the problem. Without knowing the whole problem, there is not really a way to help. It is easy to forget that everyone reacts differently to different things and when you hurry to give answers the situation is not getting any better. 

We are taught to write, speak, and read when we are very young, but no one is teaching us how to listen. When Covey writes about listening, he does not mean the normal listening we are used to, instead he means listening to understand. Listening to reply is not understanding. This is not easy. We all have strong opinions about many things. It is hard to listen someone saying otherwise. When someone is explaining their opinion that you do not agree with, you tend to think the whole time how you are going to strike back. Thus, your focus is not fully on the discussion and this will create even more misunderstandings. 

If you want to learn how to be more effective, learning to listen the right way is crucial. A lot of misunderstandings and conflicts could be avoided if everyone would listen carefully at the first time. There would be no time wasted on fixing problems afterwards. We should look back in the history books and see how misunderstandings create conflicts that could be avoided with just listening. It is true that our everyday discussion is that important that the whole world will be affected but it is still important to learn how to understand each other. 

Today’s world is highly focused on technology. We carry our phones, computers, and tablets everywhere we go. These gadgets are very helpful and here for a reason. Highly effective people have learned how to use those devices without letting them distract. These devices are there all the time and if you are not aware of them, they might make you ineffective. Julian Treasure explains in his TedTalk (2011) that according to research we are taking in only 25% of the things we are hearing. This includes of course music and noises that are not meant for us but also parts of discussion that are meant for us to be heard. 

It is not only unpolite but also ineffective to have your devices there when you are listening to someone. We all can agree that when we scroll our phone half of what other one is saying will go pass even thought you don’t want to admit it. Going through your Facebook in the middle of a discussion will not lead to wanted outcomes. It is not just the technology but also the busy environment we all live in. All of us can admit that we have been thinking about work, homework, or food in the middle of a discussion about something totally different. We are always on the move and sitting down and listening someone to understand their saying is rare. 

In addition, these days we are so used to watching and listening things from recordings. We can skip and go back to things we missed, and we can focus on other things at the same time; the Youtube video does not get mad if you do not remember to answer. This has affected our listening with people too. We are forgetting that discussions with other human beings need our 100% focus. If we do not give that, we are not listening to understand. Conscious listening creates understanding. Conscious listening is being present when communicating with others and being aware of their feelings and needs. Being able to listen consciously is a skill that is helpful in any kind of setting, at work or in your free time (Treasure, 2011.)



Here are listed five actions you can take to become a better listener.

1.     Eye contact. You do not have to stare at anyone but show them that you are present with looking at them. Do not look at your phone when someone is talking to you.

2.     Ask open questions. Show that you are interested in the discussion with asking questions. 

3.     Remember past details. You do not have to remember every single detail in the world but commenting details from past conversations is a good way to show that you are and were listening. 

4.     Nod and understand. Pay attention to your body language while listening. 

5.     Do not listen to reply. Try not to think about your own answers before the other person is done with their part. This will help you focus on the current discussion. 


Listening skills can be learned and it does not happen overnight. Just by paying a little more attention next time you are listening to someone, makes a big difference. Sometimes putting your own feelings and opinions to the side is hard. But if someone is doing that to you it can be frustrating to talk to someone who does not pay attention to these details. By showing that you are present in your conversation might show them example and create a better dialogue between you.  

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