I first heard this story from Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as a young graduate in 2005 at a leadership development program and it has stayed with me. I will Share a scene from the book which emphasises why we should try to Understand why people behave the way they do, before we harshly criticise them.
Covey recounts, “I remember a mini-paradigm shift I experienced one morning on a subway in New York. People were sitting quietly , some reading newspapers, some lost in thought, some resting with their eyes closed. It was a calm, peaceful scene. Then suddenly, a man and his children entered the subway. The children were so loud and rambunctious that instantly the whole climate changed.
The man sat down next to me and closed his eyes, apparently oblivious to the situation. The children were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people’s papers. It was very disturbing. And yet, the man sitting next to me did nothing.
It was difficult not to feel irritated. I could not believe that he could be so insensitive as to let his children run wild like that and do nothing about it, taking no responsibility at all. It was easy to see that everyone else on the subway felt irritated, too. So finally, with what I felt was unusual patience and restraint, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”
The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
Can you imagine what I felt at that moment?”
Don’t we do the same with the people around us? Form conclusions and opinions before we ask and genuinely seek to understand why they do things the way they do? We take the easy road of criticizing rather than the high road of being a solution provider (which would require understanding the problem).
This week let us exercise the art of listening to understand ,it may just change our view of the situation before us.