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13 Behaviors of Trustworthy People: #11 Listen First

speed of trust

Drawn from “Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey, The Collier Companies Fall 2013 Conference of Champions featured a two day “Speed of Trust” seminar by FranklinCovey

To “Listen First, Speak Last” is to “genuinely seek to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, experience, and point of view” AND “to do it first, before you try to diagnose, influence, or prescribe.”-Speed of Trust, p. 208. The opposite of “Listen First” is talk first, listen last. Talk first is “self-focused, ego-driven behavior” and an explicit “emotional bank account” withdrawal that erodes trust and is the antithesis of relationship building.

“The principles behind Listen First include understanding, respect, and mutual benefit. The counterfeit is pretend listening. It’s spending “listening” time thinking about your reply and just waiting for your turn to speak. Or it’s listening without understanding.” -Speed of Trust, p. 209/10. 

The most common objection to “Listen First, Speak Last” is that it “takes too much time.” Yet with people, “fast is slow and slow can be fast” (i.e. when pushed or ignored folks tend to dig in their heels and resist). When shown respect (by listening, by investing time), when their concerns are acknowledged, when they feel understood and valued, trust abounds and process flows more smoothly. Listen First is a practical application of the principle of “instead of increasing driving forces, focus on removing restraining forces.”

Closing Quotes:

“We’ve all heard the criticism ‘he talks too much.’ When was the last time you heard someone criticized for listening too much?” - Norm Augustine, b. 1935-, former Chair, Lockheed Martin 

“Leadership has less to do with walking in front and leading the way than it does with listening to the needs of the people of the company and meeting them.”- Charles M. Cawley, b. 1941, Chair/CEO MBNA America 

“As long as a person is communicating with high emotion, he or she does not yet feel understood. A person will usually not ask for (or be open to) your advice until he or she feels understood. Don’t get caught up in the illusion that you know everything or have all the right answers. Consider what you can do to ensure others that you are listening to them and making an effort to meet their concerns and needs.” - Speed of Trust

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Avoiding Emotional Illiteracy

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At the age of 55 I found myself a 1st time father; the joyful dad of a beautiful baby boy. My insightful wife pointed out that while my home office had four walls of books on business and personal growth, however, there was absolutely nada on raising kids. As I began reading, it struck me how many lessons were universal.  How many unsettled issues can remain in adulthood? Hidden, lingering symptoms of childhood waiting to be resolved. 

“Too many boys fall into the trap of embracing the image of stoic masculinity they see in the mainstream media— a template that has been adopted as the inflexible code of their peer group. Driven by psychological self-protection; they feel that they must be respected.  Working hard to maintain a masculine persona to achieve that end. 

So much of their energy is devoted to sustaining this defensive perimeter, seeing threats where they don’t exist;

Staging preemptive strikes against any feared incursions into their fortress of solitude.  And whose preferred mode of dealing with emotional pain is drowning it in a six-pack of beer.

  - Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, Michael Thompson, Dan Kindlon

 There are many, many ways to adopt dysfunctional behavior templates, unthinkingly ingesting role models from TV, the movies and junk fiction, copying coping strategies designed for laughs and prolonging drama, not for forming deep, meaningful human relationships. 

 It takes wisdom and maturity to realize that strength and vulnerability not only can go together, they DO go together. Only the weak need to cower behind defensive walls; life is to be lived and that means sharing yourself and being fully present.

 Closing Quotes:

“My sense of self is anchored deep within, from that flows wonderful peace.” - Affirmation by Nathan S. Collier, 1952-

“As bodies unclothed must be, so souls uncloaked must be to taste whole joys.” - John Donne, 1572-1631 (liberally paraphrased)

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13 Behaviors of Trustworthy People: #10 Practice Accountability

speed of trust

Drawn from “Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey, The Collier Companies Fall 2013 Conference of Champions featured a two day “Speed of Trust” seminar by FranklinCovey

The Principle of Accountability is two-fold: First, “Hold Yourself Accountable” then “Hold Others Accountable.”

Hold Yourself Accountable

Holding yourself accountable is the polar opposite of playing the “victim” card. Standing up, shouldering responsibility and committing to effective recovery efforts makes a powerful statement that engenders trust and creates a resounding ripple effect, encouraging others to do likewise.  

Hold Others Accountable

“People respond to accountability — particularly the performers. They want to be held accountable.  Performers also want others to be held accountable. They thrive in an environment where they know that everyone is expected to step up and be responsible, where they can trust that slackers and poor performers won’t just slip by.”

- Stephen M.R. Covey, “Speed of Trust”

The extremes of accountability are “over owning” i.e. excessively or even neurotically taking responsibility (occasionally a sign of low self-esteem) or “under owning” (i.e. shrinking one’s responsibility). A misuse of accountability is to use it with the intent to punish, blame or shame (i.e. bully).

Properly done, utilizing the 4 Cores of Trust (Integrity, Good Intent, Competency and Results) and practiced with the principles of stewardship and ownership, Accountability creates an atmosphere of openness and trust.

Closing Quotes:

“No one raindrop takes responsibility but still the flood happens. It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”

“Accountability breeds response-ability.”  - Stephen R. Covey; 1932-2012

“The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch.” - Michael Armstrong; 1938-

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