“Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood,” is the fifth success habit from Steven R. Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He talks about listening with empathy, not sympathy; listening by getting inside another person’s frame of reference.
Listening with empathy involves much more than registering, reflecting, or even understanding the words that are said. Communication experts estimate, in fact, that only 10 percent of communication is represented by the words one says. Another 30 percent is represented by sounds and 60 percent by body language. Listening with empathy is listening with your ears, your eyes, and your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel.