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The Highly Effective Family

Habit Five: Seek First to Understand ... Then to Be Understood. A friend shared his experience with me. He said, "On my fairly new job my boss was mad at me because I didn’t do something that was expected but hadn't been specifically told or asked to do. I was told to drop everything and work on this new project right now. At the time I was working on another project with a deadline which meant I had to work extremely late that night to finish this one.

"I felt unjustly mistreated and felt hurt and angry. However, instead of reacting negatively, I learned something about my boss that helped me understand him and the way he operates better. The next morning I asked him that when he wanted something done would he tell me clearly and let me know when he wanted it done. I wanted to be understood too, but understanding him first helped smooth things out. He admitted he has a hard time asking anybody to do anything for him. I now understand him much better which will help our working relationship."

To seek to understand the other person first is essential in any relationship and especially so in the family.

Habit Six: Synergize. Webster defines synergism as "combined action ... greater in total effect than the sum of their [parts]."

Two can accomplish more
than twice as much as one.

King Solomon, reputed to be one of the wisest men who ever lived, summed up "synergism" very wisely when he wrote, "Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he's in trouble. Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone? And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."1

Habit Seven: Sharpen the Saw. This "Habit" "will cultivate all of the other six habits and keep them strong and vibrant. How? Simply by using them in renewing activities–especially, family traditions. That's what we mean by 'sharpening the saw.'"

Some of the traditions suggested are regular family dinners, family holidays, serving together in special projects, working together to get things done at home and making these times fun, and worshiping together.

Regarding the latter, it is still true that "The family that prays together stays together." Research has also shown that families who have a genuine spiritual commitment have a much greater chance of being happy than those that don't.

According to Covey, practicing these seven habits "can help you to see and communicate more clearly, and will help you to arrive where you, as a family, want to go."

1. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (TLB).

* The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, © 1997 Covey Leadership Center, Inc. Published by Golden Books Publishing Company, Inc.

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All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.