Stephen Covey said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” What are your thoughts on this?

  1. There was a workplace seminar exercise thing I went to where we had to listen to our conversation partner, and all we have to do is to summarize what they said to make them feel fully understood. No response of our own other than reiterating their points. Then they have to “judge” us based on whether we got their main points, or if we’re missing important parts, or if we added anything they didn’t say. Took quite a bit of effort because we’re so used to just listening for keywords while our minds go elsewhere.

  2. I’ve done that, too. It’s excellent training and really forces you to focus if you’ve never done that before.

  3. A friend who needed some serious marriage counseling with his wife now live by this rule: when they're arguing, neither is allowed to respond to a statement until they have re-stated what was said demonstrating understanding of it to their spouse's satisfaction. And it occurred to me that aside from making sure everyone is moving forward in the same direction, the practice slows down the pace of the argument allowing everyone to take their words into consideration before just blurting out "I hate you, you ruined my life."

  4. I feel like that's the same, you're listening to reply, just in this case, you reply with what they've just siad.

  5. We did this while i was in school for counseling. We call it active listening and it’s tough to do no matter how long you’ve done it. You think you know the right thing to say but you never know if it the right thing they need to hear. It helps echo their thoughts, clarify any misconceptions, and offer chances to rethink situations without altering or adding any information to what they’ve said.

  6. Listening is a skill. I teach a similar exercise in my high school communications classes but require body language that is a listening posture as well. Sometimes telling out bodies what our minds are supposed to be doing helps.

  7. I've done that before in family therapy, it's harder than it seems! Definitely a worthwhile exercise though especially for conflict resolution scenarios -- this and using "I" statements (instead of "you" or "we") do wonders for keeping discussions civil.

  8. I am a headhunter and I have a very good grasp on this. Whenever I am talking to a client he/she is usually givinf me a job order. So my entire concentration is intently listening to him/her and taking in everything he/she wants while asking very brief and pointed questions to things that they did not cover. It also works pretty well when I’m interviewing a candidate.

  9. Yes! I had a similar seminar, where we had to listen and respond without immediately relating what they said to our experience with the topic/issue. A lot of us agreed that we’d never thought about it that way before but it sure seemed like a good idea. It was very useful. Way easier to communicate with a few colleagues after that!

  10. When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you, instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.

  11. A recent cancer diagnosis refutes this in my (limited) experience. It’s amazing how quickly it becomes about them, but that’s alright, I’ve never much liked talking about myself.

  12. The irony in that scene is that Marla Singer said "waiting for their turn to speak " in unison with Tyler. At first this seems to indicate that they were in sync, but it also indicates that she was waiting for her turn to speak, thus proving his point.

  13. The more I read from Palahniuk, the more I think he was just one of the first to have literal statements publicized.

  14. "Good morning! Monday's right? Did you do anything fun this weekend? Yeah, that's cool. Let me tell you about my Saturday..."

  15. Love this. Goes both ways. I am aware that I am not doing a great job at listening but am really struggling to find ways to improve that don't seem disingenuous while I am working on it. Also, usually the best of intentions go out of the window in the heat of the moment and I am lucky enough to say I don't get much opportunity to train it during arguments because there just aren't many 😊

  16. This is how I’ve made a lot of my friends. I’m a good listener, and even with my horrible memory, I can bring up things that we talked about weeks ago. It makes you feel good to know that someone is actually paying attention to what you’re saying. Also, as awkward as I am, if someone gives me something to bounce off of I can have a conversation last hours. It becomes a problem when someone gives one-word answers and doesn’t ask anything, because it’s hard to keep a convo going on your own.

  17. This is definitely true for me, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to stop myself. It’s not a trait I like about myself.

  18. Lol I feel like I probably go the other way. I'm far more interested in what other people have to say and feel like a burden if what I'm going to say isn't going to make the laugh or something. Probably just a healthy dose of social anxiety but it sounds like a pretty cool skill to just be able to rapid-fire conversation with less than total input from the others in it.

  19. I notice the same thing about myself. I'd like to think of myself as a good listener, but that's definitely not always the case.

  20. A good practice, is even when you really do want to say something in response, is say your piece, but always make sure to tie it back to what the previous person said at the end of your story

  21. At least you would wait for the other person to stop talking before you would tell them something. I have poor impulse control and accidentally cut people off mid sentence with an entirely different subject. I'm working on it though and now notice more often when I do it. Then I apologize and try to go back to what they were saying.

  22. Absolutely true. I heard a better version (applicable to almost all arguments) - Not listening to understand, merely pausing to reload

  23. The version i knew was "not listening, merely waiting their turn to speak," but i might like yours better.

  24. Pausing to reload is exactly how I feel when I argue with my girlfriend. She will let me talk, but has an instant rebuttal ready to go the instant I pause, telling me she hasn’t taken any time to process what I said. She doesn’t want to have a conversation or debate, she wants to win a fight, and has already dug in on her position and won’t be swayed.

  25. I find the opposite to be equally true, that “Most people do not speak with the intent to explain; they speak with the intent to get something said.”

  26. Yes. There are lots of people who refuse to listen what they don't want to listen and be unable to explain their views in a logical and objective way.

  27. I've noticed though, that if you only listen to understand and speak to explain, people constantly complain about how quiet you are.

  28. So true. My dad when he says something and I agree with him. He gets angry and says why do you always say yes. And when I disagree with him he says you always have an answer ready.

  29. Also some people just talk and talk and say the same thing 5x times and you are just waiting to reply and they just go on and on in circles.

  30. At the same time it depends on the context of the conversation. A serious debate or deeply personal conversation? Yes, this is common and a problem. But a friendly light conversation or awkward small talk where the chief goal is to keep the conversation going and have fun? Still true but less of a problem.

  31. Do you really need to explain something every single time you speak? I don't know, sometimes I just like to talk. Say something that crossed my mind, make some joke, rant about something. Not all conversations need to be meaningful.

  32. Very good point. A lot of people seem to speak merely as a form of performance. So you see so many outrageous things said just to prick people's ears up. But then they're unwilling to discuss or explain anything in detail. It's all about shock value.

  33. The quote predates the internet by quite a bit. Covey's book was a bestseller in 1989, and quite obviously was geared towards in person communication without reference materials backing them.

  34. I'm guilty of this one pretty bad. A lot of times I agree broadly with a person's argument and end up saying "yeah that's true, but" and then whatever I think. I have been considering how to be a bit better of a listener.

  35. It's also funny how it often takes them like 2 seconds to reply and not even thinking about what you said for a minute. Especially if it's a complicated subject.

  36. It’s true, but it’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds. The wish to communicate your own experience to others, and the fact that doing so is beneficial to our mental health, is still a positive thing overall. I also think that a lot of this is mistaken as self-importance, when it’s more often than not a sign of empathy to try to relate your own experience to that of someone else.

  37. Thank you for putting it into words! I almost always try to relate to what someone is saying because I find it easier to be empathetic (as you said!) when I imagine how I would feel in their position. I also tend to prefer it when the person I’m talking to does the same.

  38. After reading all this I feel like I do convos wrong because as a response to something said by a person I usually bring something up from my own experience, and as you said it's trying to build empathy and connection. Maybe it doesn't come across that way...

  39. That's true. I do this a lot when I'm listening to someone's problems. I hope it helps them solve the problem as well as it lets them talk about it more which helps me understand them better and it also help them to talk it out.

  40. The fact that you have a reply in mind does not mean you are not listening. And if you don't have a reply in mind doesn't mean you are.

  41. Stephen Richards Covey was an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker. His most popular book is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

  42. Yeah I agree with this. If you only listen then you'll basically have next to no time to think about what to reply with.

  43. I'd like to hear more of Covey's opinion and especially yours. I care what you think and appreciate your point of view.

  44. Yeah, but aren't most conversations listening and then replying? I think a more meaningful quote would be to change "reply" to "retort."

  45. Most people say, "I'm here if you need someone to talk to," but, despite their intention to be helpful, it is exactly as the quote implies. So, to convey a different meaning, I will instead say, "I'm here if you need someone to listen," which is what most people need, in my experience.

  46. I know plenty of people who could talk your ear off. If they pause long enough to let you get a word in, you can see them physical anticipating the moment you shut up so they can keep talking

  47. I think it's the normal reaction of our brain. We do that automatically so we could interact fast. No doubts why those who was very good at listening was trained to listen with open minded and non judgement. So they could try to understand what the other person is trying to say.

  48. Everything always comes from intentions no matter How you look at the answer to even listen. If I'm trying to get you to a certain area of Insight I purposely ask you questions not for me to hear the answer but for you to hear and understand the answer. And it's a process of teaching by having them discover through their own answers . But If I want to actually learn Yes you listen And anyone that thinks that they have reached a state of all knowledge and understanding. Well then I can't learn from you. Because if you think you know everything than you have a set idea if what all knowledge is and we already have a disconnect from the Start.. if we can't agree on what knowledge and understand of everything is then we have no base line to compare ideas

  49. And “winning” (which is as simple as holding 51% of the House/Senate/electoral college) translates to “I can do whatever I want with no consideration of the other side whatsoever and without concern for future consequences.”

  50. Not at all. I think it's more referring to active listening. Even if someone is telling me a boring story, I still make a point to make eye contact and listen to what they're telling me instead of queueing up a one upper.

  51. Not sure what you said, but here's a funny story that I really wanted to share: Once my friend was telling me something, and he kept saying it was really important. Don't really remember it, but i told him this awesome story afterwards about fnaf lore and it was really cool

  52. My bf and I can both be bad for this. Long ago I started catching myself on this, so after I interrupt someone because I was just waiting to talk, I swing the convo back to them.

  53. Like many motivational speakers and business gurus, here Covey is sharing a rather obvious-yet-motivational nugget of wisdom, that makes me want to reply about how much I want to get out of this goddamn conference room and to the hotel pool before sunset happy hour ends, for fuck's sake.

  54. I find with myself, it depends on the speaker. I like to listen to people who don’t talk a lot, because when they do talk, it’s with purpose. The content is more interesting. Some people have to talk all the time, and I just can’t wait until they are done. I find myself tuning them out. I’m not waiting for my turn to talk with them either; I just want to exit the conversation.

  55. Whenever I bring up a good point in a conversation or apologize for something, they just restate that I'm wrong or that I'm being offensive by apologizing

  56. Ultimately depends on what you interpret as important and how someone is brought up. I agree with the statement, but don't feel like it necessarily applies to me.

  57. No doubt about it. It's evident in the way most people respond. I've been working on this myself for quite a few years now, but it's really difficult. Especially in an argument. It's worth practicing though. There are a ton of benefits to being able to really listen

  58. Yep, don't go into an argument expecting them to seriously contemplate what you say if you're not planning to do the same with them. Even then it can be tricky, as many people have the "I know I'm right, I know you're wrong" mentality

  59. So either they're answering your question or you interrupted them. In either case, what did you expect?

  60. In order to reply well, you must understand the point, so I think he's right to an extent, but one who replies well will also have understood.

  61. I agree wholeheartedly. One of the things I constantly say is "stop thinking about what you're going to say and listen to what I'm saying" when having conflict. People don't realize they're doing it and it can help snap them out of it. Active listening, everyone!

  62. I struggle with this badly. Have a massive temper and work very hard to overcome it, with only minor success. One way I try to listen better was to find something else to occupy my head with while listening to someone - sounds paradoxical, but it really does help me process what they're saying rather than focusing on my thoughts on the subject. I "trained" myself to pay attention to my body language and facial expressions rather than to my knee-jerk reaction. Doesn't always work, but it does help put a stop gap between the knee-jerk temper and the listening. I also try to always ask questions, or at least ask how the person is doing with relation to the topic if it's not something I can or should ask about. If I'm not asking an earnest question, I know I probably didn't listen well enough.

  63. I’m not sure exactly cuz I zoned out half way through that sentence, but it reminds me of that time I was talking to a girl who totally zoned out on me so I said my favorite quote to her, most people only listen with the intent to reply, not understand It’s a pretty fantastic quote and I’m a pretty fantastic guy for saying it

  64. Replying is good in fact I think,since communicating always needs to Parties. Although the communication has to exist on a basis of understanding, so just replying to prove the other one wrong is completely senseless.

  65. What is especially hard is listening with the intent to understand during an argument. You feel like someone is challenging you so you focus on how to counter their points. Even good conversational listeners can lose their intent to understand when the conversation breaks into an argument.

  66. My thoughts? Ellen DeGeneres clearly follows Stephen Covey's guidance as it pertains to interviewing.

  67. I think it is true, and that it takes practice and self regulation to correct this. But it is largely correctable.

  68. I have always been a bit socially awkward when it comes to conversations with coworkers, classmates, even friends until I learned this truth. Just ask follow up questions THEN (important part) next time you see that person lead off with a question about your last conversation, “How is your dog Max doing?” Or, did you get around to cleaning your garage last weekend?” I swear it has made things so much easier for me and I can tell people are genuinely excited to talk to me. Win win.

  69. Well, I learn by engaging, not by standing idly by. If you are just talking to me, without me also having the opportunity to ask questions or propose counter ideas, I won't learn anything. So by doing the latter, I accomplish the former.

  70. Understanding usually comes after listening, when you start to think about what someone actually said. One cannot intensely listen and understand at the same time.

  71. Understanding this was a game changer for me in life. I started being more concerned with if I understood others, before I concerned myself with if I was being understood. So much confusion and conflict has been avoided simply because of this one small change.

  72. I kinda agree with @Nettoklegi.I hink its natural for people to speak with the intention to get something said, but takes intentional effort to speak with the intent to explain. Conversely, I feel it's natural to listen in order to reply, but takes intentional effort to listen to understand.

  73. If I'm understanding this correctly, then I tend to not fit into the "most people" category most of the time. I tend to want to understand, sometimes to try to understand how that person is thinking (like, for example, a flat-earther or Covid-denier).

  74. I think it’s pretty natural. In conversation you look like an idiot if you just sit there thinking about what was just said, trying to puzzle out what they meant. So you won’t have time to put much thought in before you respond.

  75. In my high school band class we occasionally had "listening sessions" where we'd sit quietly and listen to a piece of music and try to pick out details. My instructor said, "Listening is a skill, and one you have to practice to become a good musician." I took the advice to heart, but also generalized the idea. I remember listening to my parents talking in the front seat quite a bit after that, and even having my younger brother trying to talk to me in the car sometimes and explaining to him that I was listening and he should to.

  76. I've seen this very often with dumb people, even if they're right they just want to refute everything, once I saw a guy in shark Tank loosing a deal because he wanted to prove another shark (that was out) that he (the shark) was wrong.

  77. I agree, I get into fights with my partner and its crazy that she has just as much to say as I do about how shit I do makes her feel, while I was only looking at it one way. It also really shows how bad I am at listening most of the time unless we are fighting

  78. I agree either the idea but I don’t know if I would say most people. I have definitely met a lot of people who are clearly just waiting for their turn to talk rather than to completely understand who is currently speaking. However, I’d like to think that’s not most people.

  79. Sorry I didn't catch what you said, but you know I was thinking about this article I read the other day about...

  80. Regardless of the intentions on the quote, he failed to understand that conversations aren't meant to be filled with silence, nor are they always supposed to be filled with understanding. I am not strong or mature enough to be the only person in a room trying to understand everybody else. I will reply.

  81. I mean it’s really true. If you look at most political arguments on social media people don’t even pay attention to responses and almost never prevent fact

  82. 100% agree with this. I have had to really embrace this flaw in myself for both my career and personal life and still catch myself backsliding. Talk less and listen more.

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