Saturday, November 15, 2008

Say What?

In my further reading of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood stands out in my mind. The gravity of this habit is clear; everyone wants to be understood. Most everyone desires someone to listen to his or her problems. Before you can fix another's problems, you must first listen and understand that person's feelings. Covey says that the problem with listening is that most people do not know how to listen. Common poor listening styles include spacing out when others speak, pretending to listen by commenting at pauses in the conversation, selectively listening to only part of the conversation, listening to words without noticing tone or body language, and listening in a self-centered manner.

Genuine listening requires a bit more effort. The first step is to listen with your eyes, heart, and ears. Only 7% of communication comes from the words spoken. Body language makes up 53%, and the tone in which words delivered account for the remaining 40%. You must listen to what a person is not saying to fully understand what they mean. Second, you should stand in the other person's shoes. People often think conversations are competitions. Since everyone has different backgrounds and points of view, more than one opinion in a situation can be correct. The third step in being a genuine listener is to practice mirroring, or repeating back in your own words what the other person is saying and feeling. The second part of this habit, seeking to be understood is harder. It takes courage to share your feelings with others. Feedback given correctly can also help others understand you and can be a deposit in the RBA, or relationship bank account. This habit made me wonder how much I have been missing in conversations by not taking the time to genuinely listen.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Put First Things First

For my English class, I have begun reading the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. It is a sort of self-help book to assist teenagers in getting a hold on their hectic lives. So far, the habit that really hit home was Habit 3: Put First Things First. As most of us well know, the modern teenager is swamped. Between cheerleading, band, schoolwork, family, and friends, there is no down time! In Habit 2, I decided what the most important aspects of my life are. Habit 3 teaches me to prioritize and manage my time. This habit also talks about will-power, your ability to say yes to the important things, and won't power, your ability to refuse less important things and stand up to peer pressure.

In Habit 3 Covey speaks of the four time quadrants in which we spend our time: the procrastinator, the prioritizer, the yes-man, and the slacker. He believes that Quadrant 2: The Prioritizer is the quadrant we should aim for. Important, but not urgent things make up this quadrant. Activities of a prioritizer might include being with friends, relaxing, exercising, planning ahead, and doing homework on time. People who live in this quadrant have it all together; they are in control of their lives. I, an overly busy perfectionist, tend to live in Quadrant 1: The Procrastinator. Characteristics of a procrastinator include addiction to urgency, thriving under pressure, stress and anxiety, burnout, and mediocre performance. I am a prime example of a person living in Quadrant 1, putting off my English assignments until the night before they are due. After reading this habit, I think that Sean Covey's tips for spending more time in Quadrant 2 will really help me.