A while ago I noticed a copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in a used bookstore. I had known of the title for some time but had never read it. Since being more effective is something that I strive for, and since I feel it's one of my strongest weaknesses, and since I love used books, I bought it. Really all I wanted was help in figuring out how I could best get schoolwork done with less procrastination but I was happily surprised to realize that the book provided considerably more than that.
Certainly there are mainly valuable lessons contained within, I'll mention one that really stood out. Much of the advice contained deals with how to navigate various relationships and of course communication is invaluable regardless of the type of relationship. One of the points the book's author Stephen Covey makes is that one should always First Understand, then Be Understood. When I first read this it seemed so obvious that it doesn't really bear stating. It is just too cliche seeming, like a commendation to "walk a mile in his shoes."
However, the problem is that comprehension is always done through one's own framework which necessarily skews understanding. The suggestion then, is to really seek to understand the other person's point of view, by considering not just the information being presented, but why it's being said. This involves questions and rephrasing so that both parties can be certain they're on the same page. Only when you understand the other person's point of view do you present yours. Then seek to have the same level of understanding. So often disagreements stem from people who are arguing different things. Here's an example.
A while ago my friend Calvin loaned me a book by Jay-Z called Decoded. It is part autobiography and part discussion of his rap lyrics. It was perhaps surprising that Calvin loaned me the book because historically I've been dismissive of rap, not being overly fond of the sound and outright contemptuous of the lyrics. The lyrics are after all, hopelessly materialistic, violent, misogynistic and based solely in shock value. However, I decided to read a bit.
I read about Jay-Z's start in the projects selling drugs but later skipped over to his explanation of the only song of his that I knew, 99 Problems. I had heard the song before but the only lyrics I knew were of course, the chorus. "If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son, I've got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one"
In the book he discussed the lyrics from the second verse: