Insights from “The 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey” – Public victories

In the last post, I have discussed the second section of the book about Private Victories (Part 2). In this third section I’ll be talking about the Public Victories.

Public Victories : Habit 4, 5 and 6

While the private victories focuses on understanding and mastering yourself thanks to the 3 first habits  and four endowments of human being. The Public Victories are mainly relationships. They provide ways to tie healthy interactions, they give you the tools to be effective and to understand human social dynamics. They move you from the independence into a higher level of existence, that is interdependence. They let you draw on other people skills and capacities, they let you influence and be influenced, they let you synergize with people.

In understanding relationships, Stephen R Covey used a very powerful metaphor, The Emotional Bank Account. He explained that human relationships are essentially forms of deposits into a bank account. If I am your friend and I share with you a healthy friendship, I have undoubtedly done a lot of deposits into your emotional bank account. These deposits can take form of help, discussion, quality time, loyalty, understanding. In the other side, I can withdraw from this account because I already have made enough deposits. The more interactions we have the more deposits we exchange. With family, deposits are huge because we are constantly withdrawing from those accounts.

Now imagining that someone doesn’t have enough deposits with me. I can’t trust him as much as I do with a friend or a family member. Because with friends and family we have already made large deposits that make impossible to jeopardize our relationships.

With this framework of Emotional Bank Account into mind we can tackle the next habit that is

Habit 4 : Think Win-Win

This is not something new to some of the readers, Win-Win is a widely spread term that is largely used in corporations by management. However, it is misused as a compromise alternative rather than a true Win-Win philosophy.

Lets take as an example a salary discussion during a job interview. Both the candidate and the HR manager are discussing several points of the contract, they finally get to the salary question. The employee have requested, lets say, an annual salary of $100,000. The HR manager had only proposed $85,000. Both have their constraints and both intend to get the maximum benefice from this deal. The HR manager can’t go beyond a certain budget. The candidate can’t accept less than a threshold because this is what he thinks he should earn. Finally they both agree to split the difference. This is typically what some people will call a Win-Win. However, in reality, it is a Lose-Lose. Because neither of the HR manager nor the candidate got what he wanted at the beginning.

True Win-Win is not a compromise, it is a transcending solution. Basically while I try to benefit from something, I also work to align the interest of the other side with mine. We don’t go for half the prize, we go for 10 times the prize. We genuinely work together to find third alternatives that can encompass both our concerns.

In reality, there are several paradigms of human interactions : Win-Win, Win-Lose, Lose-Win, Lose-Lose, Win and No deal. We are going to assume that no intelligent individual will go for Lose alternatives. We will only discuss Win-Lose, Win and No Deal alternatives against Win-Win.

The Win-Lose alternatives may seem a good deal, I am getting what I want. I shouldn’t be concerned with the other side. This may seem true in some cases like in concluding business. While I’m not convinced it is. But to easily convince you that it is not practical, let assume the interaction is with your child. You are having a discussion about whether the school is good for him or not. He doesn’t seem to be convinced by it. Yet you know that it is really important. While having this conversation, you are trying to convince him, that school will help him achieve his goals, to have a good future. But none of this is working. You finally resort to power and you tell him that he’d better get serious about his studies. You may have won the argument for the moment but you have damaged your relationship with your child. Your child is an important individual in your life, while going for an immediate Win-Lose, On the long run, you went for a Lose-Lose.

The Win alternative is when I’m concerned with myself. I need to Win, the other person may also Win or Lose, I don’t mind. In the absence of confrontation and competition this is the dominant paradigm. It is to each one to secure his winnings. But what a selfish paradigm to leave with. Again, in families this paradigm will be harmful on the long run.

The No Deal alternative, is when both sides conclude that there is no need to engage in some sort of business or deal. Both interests are not aligned and the relationship will only be damaging for both. While not doing business may seem like a bad alternative, sometimes no business is better than bad business. It may look like a Lose-Lose in the short-term but No Deal alternatives are long-term Win-Win. In fact, no compromise is done.

Now that we have discussed human interactions paradigms and their relevance against Win-Win paradigm. We will tackle two aspects of Win-Win paradigm.

Win-Win interaction requirements : For reminder, the 7 habits are drawn upon the character ethics. All take their origin in the principle centered paradigm. To apply the Win-Win paradigm in your life,  it is necessary to develop a set of qualities. First,  Integrity. It means that I have already done my home work, I know who I am, and what are my values, I know my mission, and I have already written my personal mission statement to navigate the territory. I don’t compromise myself with immediate wins, I go for the long-term wins that are aligned with my compass. Second, Maturity. Stephen R Covey, defines Maturity as being, Courage with Consideration. Lets suppose I am in a situation where I need to confront somebody with something unpleasant he has done. It is courageous to tell him what he has done, however maturity takes into account the How. There is a need for consideration. If I need to speak to one of my employees about an error he did. I take him apart, I close the door, I make sure that we are alone, then I can have a conversation with him. Third, Abundance mentality. These are the people who think there is enough for everybody, that if someone succeed doesn’t mean that I have failed. These are the people who celebrate other people successes. these are the people who share the credit for their accomplishments, with coworkers and family.

Win-Win interaction dimensions : Win-Win paradigm revolutionize five aspects of our human interactions. First, it transforms our relationships. By being proactively engaged into our relationships,  and with the help of the emotional bank account paradigm, we work genuinely to make constant deposits. As a result we strengthen our links and we build circles from which we can make future withdrawals. Second, It facilitates our agreements, Win-Win enhances integrity and trust, expectations are announced and hidden agendas prohibited, it is easier than to do business. Third, It reshapes the training. By aligning expectations with work goals, individuals are more inclined to proactively engage in the exercise. Fourth, It improves reliability of performance incentives. By eliminating competition and enforcing collaboration. Fifth and last, it reorganize the process of interaction, more than a technique, Win-Win is a philosophy of interaction, consequently the processes are rethought to support the Win-Win philosophy.

The Win-Win pattern of interaction is a philosophy of managing relationships, that start within and to the outside, from values to relationship. It is based upon character ethics, It requires clear vision, and fosters collaboration and mutual gains. More than an immediate fix, it is a long-term commitment to healthy and effective relationships.

Habit 5 : Seek first to understand, Then to be understood.

I remember that I came across an article on the queen Elizabeth about two former candidates for the prime minister position. As a protocol before the election, both final candidates must supper with the queen to exchange about the plans for the next mandate. While I don’t remember which candidates were meant by this brief anecdote, I remember when asked who made a better impression on her. The queen responded that the candidate A, was  a very intelligent man, highly educated, he was very entertaining and wise. Conversely, candidate B was very polite, caring, and attentive, he mad her feel like the most important women on the world. That sounds a bit funny, she’s the queen ! Yet the impression that he mad on her is very indicative that the man had some genuine interpersonal skills. It was this late one who won the election that year.

Researches have proven that there is a very strong correlation between physician effectiveness rating and their empathy and listening skills. Majority of patient rate their physician first on the basis of their listening, patience and empathizing skills before their qualification or efficiency.

Awkwardly, since our childhood we have been trained in all basic communication skills, Reading, writing, Speaking. Yet, we never have been trained properly into listening. And I don’t mean listening to rephrase or answer some random text understanding questions. But listening to understand the person in front of you, listening with intend to undergo the experience she went through, to feel the same emotions.

In the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence from Daniel Goleman, he has explained that great leaders weren’t made thanks to their IQ but in contrary to their EQ which he defines as being the capacity of an individual to behave and handle himself effectively in a social environment. He also presented the 5 basic characteristics for an emotional intelligent individual which are. Self-awareness, Self-control,  Self-motivation, Empathy and Social skills.

Very similarly the habit 5 encompass two of the qualities described by Daniel Goleman, empathy and social skills.

Stephen R Covey explained that we have basically 5 levels of listening capacity. The first level is Ignoring. In that level, I clearly ignore you, I am not interested in what you are saying. The second level is Pretending. In that level, I try to feel the silent gaps using nodding expressions like Yes ! OK !! RIGHT!! The third level is what he calls Selective listening, in that level I don’t follow totally the conversation but when I hear something interesting I pay attention. The fourth level is Attentive listening, I made the effort to follow the conversation, I hear what you say, and I’m able to rephrase it. You have my attention. The fifth level is what he calls Empathic listening. In that level I hear your word, I work to understand what you are saying, I try to see the things from your own frame of reference. I see them through your map and by your compass. Only then I can truly understand you.

As a matter of conditioning or may be of ignorance, we humans have developed reflexes or routines in conversations that emerge each and every time we are engaging in communication with someone. We tend to probe, evaluate, advice and interpret the person in front while we are only asked to listen. Frankly, when w think about it, So many time, We have this tendency to interrupt the person in front to tell them our own version of a similar story. This tendency is a little bit annoying, and few individuals are masters in breaking people’s momentum.

In the book The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield he has discussed that life is a matter of energy, and we leave to accumulate it. At some point in the book he presented four types of individuals : The Intimidator – Always trying to prove himself – , The Interrogator – Always asking questions -, The Aloof – Setting himself apart to draw attention – , and The PoorMe – always playing the victim -. Those four individuals tend to influence people energy when being around. They act as if they soak up your positivity and leave you on a low note each time you are around.

Similarly, our tendencies when we probe, evaluate, advice and interpret have the same effect on our interlocutors. They soak up their psychological air as Stephen R Covey put it.

You may find yourself getting back to your tendencies of probing, evaluating, advicing and interpreting, but you should immediately stop yourself and renew your commitment to only listen. Effectively using the empathic listening skill can be done through 4 development stages. First level, is repeating, repating what the person in front says. Second level, Rephrasing, using words to say the same things differently. The third level, Reflecting feelings, pointing out the feelings of the person. The fourth level, Rephrasing and reflecting feelings,  using both tricks at the same time.

Giving people psychological air and putting into play the empathic listening skill, is being ready to undergo a long process of development and engaging into interpersonal relationships. This is a manadatory stage into the transition from Independency to the Interdependency, from self-mastery to public victories.

Habit 6 : Synergize

I have already wrote an entire article on the book of “The 3rd alternative, Solving life’ most difficult problems by Stephen R. Covey” that mainly discusses collaboration and conflict resolution with the help of the 3rd alternative framework that details specifically the process and the steps to synergize. You access it here.

Synergy is the ultimate purpose for the previous habits, it is the next logical step after attaining self-master, adopting Win-Win philosophy and understanding the person in front. When I know myself, my values and my objectifs, when I prohibit myself any hidden agenda, and work honestly to understand you, I am finally able to gain your trust and work with you. This is the penickle of relationships, when we both agree to work hand in hand toward a common purpose. Synergy is when the whole is greater than the parts. Synergy is multiplication not addition. It is when I am able to draw on your capacities and competencies, when I am able to borrow your vision and creativity, It is when we attain Interdepence.

Public Victories habits are meant to foster human inter-relationships, they are meant to help you draw on others people power and achieve more than you can do by yourself. It is unpractical to seek this power before reaching the private victories. If you haven’t mastered youself, you wouldn’t be able to be effective in relationships, you will undoubtely resort to personal ethics at the first setback. The power of the 7 habits is within their disposition. They are as a building to climb. You can’t go the 6st floor without passing through the other five floors.

The next post will be about “Renewal, Habit 7 : Sharpen the saw”.

I hope you enjoyed this post. As usual, don’t hesitate to give me your feedback.

Do you have any thoughts on this principles and paradigms ?
If you already have read the book, please share with me your insights.


References :

“The Seven habits of highly effective people” – Stephen R. Covey
“Emotional Intelligence” – Daniel Goleman

I do not own any of this material, this is a simple post about the book. All credits for the materiel discussed should go to the owner of the book.

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