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  • Writer's pictureMichael Quinn

Seek To Understand Before Seeking To Be Understood

  • Did you ever read part of a question and “assumed” you knew what it was asking, only to get the answer wrong because you didn’t read the whole question?

  • Have you ever told anyone “no” or have you ever been told “no” before the question or request was delivered…and you know the answer would have been different if you or they knew the full context?

As you grow in your career, or at least as I grew in mine, I became increasingly confident in my judgements and abilities, which is a good thing. However, when my career in serving others and just in life in general really fell into place was when I learned a very valuable lesson – Seek to Understand Before Seeking to be Understood.

The best leaders and even the best followers Seek to Understand a situation fully, before Seeking to be Understood. It is vital to understand the context of a situation. It is important to get the “ground-truth”. It is a sign of strength, not weakness to get input before making a decision. Your decision may change, but it may not and that is fine.

By understanding fully, first, we may add data points to the decision making. We may add strength to the implementation. We may add clarity to the communication. Under any circumstance, when you fully understand, you will make and deliver better decisions.

Seeking understanding is also a sign of respect and of value. It shows you value the opinions of others, even if you don’t agree. While statistically they say, your first judgement is often the right judgement, “snap” judgements are often wrong or delivered in a manner that reduces the impact.

If you don’t understand fully, it will often lead to bad unintended consequences or at least an implementation and communication that is less than optimum.

I’d encourage you to use this in your everyday life and at work. See for yourself the results. If we all do that at ASN, it will improve our work and our workplace.

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