7 habits to be more productive - part 2

Arnaud Weiss
17 September 2021

40% of our actions are the result of unconscious habits (see our article on the subject). In his bestseller "The 7 habits of highly effective people", Stephen R. Covey gives us some keys to create routines that help us achieve our goals.

In the first article, I detail Covey's first three habits:

- Be proactive to progress and create opportunities

- Refer to a body of principles and values (one's own constitution)

- Prioritise effectively

We will now focus on the second part of the book, which focuses on our relationship with others.

Be cooperative rather than competitive to win in the long run

For Stephen Covey, in Western society, the competitive paradigm prevails over the cooperative paradigm. This mentality has its roots in the educational system. In school, we are always compared to others, rather than assessed on our progress or potential. At university, the overall grade (A, B+...) is calculated according to our position in the class of students. 

This mentality also dominates our professional and personal lives. We often experience the victories of others as a threat, as they may overshadow us. Or worse, as a failure, with the fruits of that success now unavailable to us. 

The author then proposes to adopt a cooperative posture and to always seek to achievewin-winsituations. He is convinced that in the long term, a cooperative approach brings more benefits than a competitive approach, both personally and professionally. But how can this be done in practice?

First of all, it is necessary to get rid of what the author calls thescarcity mindset. This is the belief that there is a fixed volume of opportunities. Every successful person in a project reduces the remaining opportunities for me. This mentality makes it hard for us to be genuinely happy for others when they succeed. But it also makes us reluctant to share the fruits of collective labour, to want to stand alone in the spotlight. 

Personally, I find this mentality very present in the entrepreneurial world. Many founders are bitter about seeing others succeed. But having successful peers means more opportunities: they can give you advice, access to their network, etc. Many studies have shown that having successful people around us increases our own chances of success.

Stephen Covey invites us to counter this mentality and to adopt a spirit of abundance. There is enough opportunity for everyone, and the successes of others do not threaten us, on the contrary.

The second step consists, in our interpersonal relationships, in seeking an optimum where everyonewins (win-win), rather than wanting to crush the other(win-lose). Or even worse, since we can't win, we can lead to a negative spiral in which everyone loses(lose-lose). In this cooperative logic, both parties are satisfied with the outcome of the negotiation.

Finally, when a mutually satisfactory agreement is not possible, it is best to withdraw and accept the no deal. This is also recommended by Chris Voss, the FBI's chief negotiator (see our article on his negotiation techniques).

Think about your personal relationships, your interactions with your team. Do you have a spirit of abundance? Are you in a win-win mentality, with the right conditions for this to be the case?

Understanding the other before seeking to be understood

When a colleague or friend comes to us for advice or support, we often already have an answer in mind before we have even listened. Selfishly, we don't wait for them to finish speaking before sharing our reading of the situation and our recommendations.

Covey's fifth habit invites us to make the effort to really listen to our interlocutors before speaking. We must seek to understand deeply their feelings, their point of view, through empathetic listening. To do this we must learn to listen. 

First of all, by showing the other person that our attention is devoted to them, through body language. Don't let your mind wander or look at your phone. 

Secondly, by leaving aside our prejudices, our own reading of the situation. We often project our needs and feelings onto others, without considering that they are very different from our own. This is what Covey calls "listening autobiographically". Often, when a person comes for advice, they really just need to be listened to without judgement in order to solve their own problem.

This sincere effort to understand the other party creates the conditions for a win-win resolution. A counterparty that feels understood will be more likely to collaborate on a solution that is favourable to both parties.

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