Book Review: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

I’ve never thought myself in need of The Seven Habits because I never saw myself in any type of management roll and assumed that it was specifically for business management. My new job is a much smaller company and there is more need for management at every level and so I decided to take the plunge and listen to the book.

Audible.com has the audio-book narrated by Stephen R Covey himself. Whenever an author personally narrates a book, you get two scenarios… 1) you gain significant additional insight into the story because of inflections, intonation and additional forewords/afterwards or 2) the author is a terrible speaker/reader and you don’t get anything out of the book simply because he can’t present it in a consistent and understandable manner.

Covey did a great job of narrating the book and threw in a few personal touches (in an afterword and a foreword).

So did the book impact me? Absolutely! A must read for anyone. Even if you aren’t in a management position, this book is for everyone. You learn about yourself and how to make yourself a better person. You also learn about how to communicate effectively with people. Not just competitors or friends and family…. everyone.

You are instructed in the art of negotiation. Now, I know what you are thinking… “I never need to negotiate anything.” Two words…. you’re dead wrong. Ok, so that was three words. Think about it. Life is a series of negotiations. From trying to get your kids to bed on time to making a major purchase with your spouse to putting together a multi-million dollar sale of your privately held business. Negotiation is a huge part of life.

So what was the most important concept I learned from the book? To follow all 7 habits. But seriously, I think the most important is the one that I have the most problem with. It deals with my pride and always wanting to give instruction/opinion. I learned that in order to really develop a relationship of trust, you must first seek to understand. Relationships are built on understanding and trust. Not just personal, but also business relationships rely on feeling understood and trusted.

So very often, when someone is explaining a problem to me, I immediately want to give my opinion. I don’t listen to them to truly find out why they feel the way they do. I don’t wait until they’ve completely vented their frustration or opinion. As soon as I hear something that I can talk about, I jump into the conversation and give an opinion. Covey calls it “forcing your autobiography on someone else.” You try to make your experiences be the answers to someone else’s problems. Often times, your experiences are much different from the other individual and don’t really apply to this situation.
So I think the most important lesson I took from the book was “Seek first to understand.”

What will be the most important lesson you learn from The Seven Habits? Read it, then let me know by posting a comment here.

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