Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood
This week I was reminded of Principle #5 from Steven Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People—Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood— when we noticed a certain locker that kept being left open.
It may sound like a small thing, but it’s important for students to close and lock their lockers after opening them. It became such an issue last year, that students will be assigned lunch detention for leaving their lockers open.
This week, a certain locker was left open several times, and that student was talked to about it on at least four different occasions. She insisted something must be wrong with her locker and that’s why it was always open. Admittedly, the argument sounded weak, but Coach Stewart listened to the student and suggested they review the cameras from the hallway to verify her story. They did, and sure enough, she was right! She, in fact, did shut her locker.
That situation could have gone a different direction. Rather than listening to the student and seeking to understand the situation, Coach Stewart could have told her “the rules are the rules” and issued lunch detention. Instead, he did the right thing.
James 1:19 sums it up: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
An open locker is a minor issue, but we’re constantly faced with opportunities to be quick to listen.
This week, I’m challenging each of us to make a conscious decision to slow down and listen to students, parents, and colleagues in order to seek first to understand before we try to be understood.