Public Victory – Becoming interdependent by cultivating positive relationships
We spoke last time about the first 3 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which are all about Private Victory.
To briefly recap, these habits are:
- Be proactive – “act or be acted upon”
- Begin with the end in mind – think about what you want your outcome to be and why
- Put first things first – do what needs to be done in the appropriate order
These next 3 habits deal with how to interact effectively with others.
HABIT #4 THINK WIN:WIN
Regardless of what we’re trying to achieve in our interactions with others, whether you’re talking about in a business sense, in a family or any other relationship, the most effective way to operate is via a Win:Win paradigm. It is impossible to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome over the long term any other way. If you need someone to agree to something, how strong can the agreement really be if you’re making them bend to your will, without consideration of their needs? Relationships based on one party always (or usually) getting their way whilst the other concedes, might appear to be functioning on the surface, but it always comes at a cost, even if this isn’t immediately apparent.
If you are the one imposing your will (“my way or the highway”, a Win:Lose approach) consider that others will eventually resent and maybe even resist being controlled and may act subversively given half the chance. If you are the one usually giving in or acquiescing to another’s “way” (Lose:Win) you’ll ultimately become frustrated by this and may pay the price in resentment, feeling disempowered, and stress.
Win:Win is a frame of mind that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. So even if you’re in a situation that requires a solution that may appear to be unpalatable to one of the parties, you’ll really need to demonstrate strong reasons for you “winning” at the other’s expense. And don’t expect them to agree next time! You may win the battle, but you’re likely to lose the war.
I’d quickly like to add that competitive sport doesn’t work like this! And how could it? If you win I must lose. But many of our current systems (and relationships) are based on Win:Lose or Lose/Win where Win:Win might well be more effective in the long run.
Win:Win requires three essential character traits: Integrity, Maturity & an Abundance Mentality
HABIT #5 SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
So often we’ll rush in to say our piece. I can be guilty of doing this sometimes when I’m enthusiastic.
However, if you really want to be effective in the habit of interpersonal communication, you have to build the skills of empathic listening in a way that inspires openness and trust.
We also need to be aware that most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, rather, we listen with the intent to reply. Empathic listening is about fully and deeply listening in order to understand the other person. One of our fundamental human needs is to be understood, affirmed, validated and appreciated and when we genuinely listen, this is what we’re giving the other person. It can be balm for our soul to feel fully heard.
And, after that need is met you can focus on influencing or problem solving.
The second half of Habit 5 (seeking to be understood) is equally as critical as seeking first to understand in reaching Win:Win solutions.
Seeking to be understood requires courage. Saying what we really mean and feel can make us feel vulnerable, but unless we do so we are hoping that the other person can somehow guess where we’re coming from – opening the door to a potential world of misunderstandings and their inevitable fallout.
HABIT #6 SYNERGISE
Put simply synergy means that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
When we are working together synergistically we can create new alternatives – something that didn’t exist before. Synergistic communication involves opening your mind and heart to new possibilities.
Many people have not really experienced even a moderate degree of synergy in their family life or other interactions. They’ve been trained into defensive and protective communications or into believing that life or other people can’t really be trusted. As a result, they’re never really open to Habit 6 and it’s principles.
This represents one of the greatest tragedies and wastes in life whereby so much potential remains untapped. Ineffective people live day by day with untapped potential.
In order to achieve synergy in communication you have to have a high degree of trust and be comfortable enough with each other to value differences, not sameness. Implicit in valuing the differences, is the concept that we see the world not as it is, but as we are. The person who is truly effective has the humility to recognise his or her own perceptual limitations and appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of others. They value differences because they add to their knowledge and understanding of reality.
Key to interpersonal synergy (synergy between people) is a healthy relationship with self. You need to feel comfortable enough in your own skin to risk exposing your ideas and creations to someone else despite the potential embarrassment or fear of rejection.
HABIT #7 SHARPEN THE SAW
This final habit enables all the rest of the habits.
It’s all about the principles relating to balanced self-renewal. If you’re going to chop down a tree, you need to sharpen the saw rather than chopping away with a blunt instrument. I think about this habit in terms of “personal sustainability”.
There are four dimensions of renewal:
- Physical – exercise, nutrition, stress-management, physical relaxation
- Social/Emotional – service, empathy, synergy, intrinsic security
- Spiritual – values clarification and commitment (identifying and living by what’s important to you), study, calming activities such as meditation or yoga – whatever nourishes your soul
- Mental – reading, visualising, planning, writing
Sharpening the saw means exercising all four dimensions of our nature regularly and consistently in sensible and balanced ways. Since “we are the instruments of our own performance” we need to protect our ability to perform well.
For you, some of these dimensions might be more challenging than others. For example, if you’re used to running on adrenalin and filling every minute with activity, it can be a challenge to rest and renew, you might see it as time-wasting, but it’s equally as important as the activity itself. Without this balance, over time you’ll burn out and it will become more difficult for you to perform well.
This can be challenging, particularly for mega-achievers!
Thinking about the social/emotional dimension we need to pay attention to our own needs here, as well as the needs of others.
Regarding the spiritual dimension – we need to feel a sense of peace and purpose, not inner turmoil.
For the mental dimension, most people stop learning once they leave formal education. Continually honing and expanding the mind is vital mental renewal.