There have been a few very politically charged events happening recently that have me thinking lots about Habit 5 Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. In fact, just last night as I flipped back and forth between the January HISD School Board Meeting and a Presidential Primary Debate I couldn’t help but reflect on the number of times I felt that the discussion was all about the defending their own opinion as opposed to considering the thoughts and feelings of others. And so, like I do in many cases when I’m looking for a little perspective, I decided to ask my 12 year old and 8 year old a few questions at breakfast, here are a few ideas we talked about, these might be questions you talk to your child about as well:
- What happens when you go into a situation with your mind already made up? This ended up being a good one to start with. It ends up highly likely that when people do this they will end up in an argument, not a discussion. I’m not sure when arguments are productive, but I can tell you thoughtful discourse will usually be more impactful and solution based.
- Why don’t people like to ask questions? I’m not sure when asking questions got a bad wrap, but personally I feel that people who are seeking information tend to be thoughtful. When someone is interested in what we think, we tend to be interested in them as a result.
- Do you have to make someone feel like they are wrong in order for you to be right? For all you Star Wars fans out there, you know that only Siths speak in absolutes 🙂 Too often people become more concerned with making someone else feel wrong as a means to justify their stance and this concerns me. Seeking first to understand is about keeping discussion about ideas and solutions, not winners and losers.
Seeking to understand others is foundational when thinking about walking the path of leadership. History’s greatest leaders weren’t those that imposed their ideas and opinions on others, they were folks who built consensus and searched to find the best solution. Listening to others is the easy part, genuinely considering their ideas at the expense of your own is hard. Leaders find a way.
I look forward to a memorable 2016 and to achieving great things together. Most importantly, I look forward to sharing our ideas, enriching our school community, and truly listening to what others have to say…even if it wasn’t what I was thinking 🙂