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Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood® Everyone wants to be heard and understood. Listening is the most important communication skill. It is important for us to listen with our heart and our ears. Less than 10 percent of communication is contained in words. We need to pay attention to the body language, tone, and feelings reflected in the voice of others.

Student example: The next time a friend seems sad, notice your friend’s eyes or the way she holds her body. Tell them you know they are sad and you want to help.


Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood means to see things from another's point of view before sharing your own. If you are capable of this, you'll be opened to a new world of understanding. 


For young children, understanding a friend's paradigm (point of view) is difficult. Encourage your child to listen to his/her friends completely before talking. At school, Habit 5 is taught in this child-friendly way: I listen to other people's ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoint (paradigm). I listen to others without interrupting. I listen with my ears, my eyes, and my heart. I am confident in voicing my ideas.


Reinforce Habit 5 at home with discussions that focus on listening, body language, and tone of voice. Click HERE for family activities!    


The following book was chosen to illustrate Habit 5. Common and easily accessible at most libraries and bookstores,
this book is a fun and interesting way for children to connect to the timeless principles. You will begin to see examples in other children's literature and soon your child will too!


The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown     
The Runaway Bunny follows the thoughts of the little bunny who thinks he would like to run away. By seeking first to understand, Mother Rabbit truly listens to her little bunny. She then seeks to be understood by offering assurance that she will always come and find him.