Understanding is a simple process that starts by focusing our attention on others, rather than on ourselves. Yet if it is indeed this simple, then why is there so much misunderstanding in the world today? Because while it is simple, it is an art, an acquired skill—one you have to actively seek to acquire.
Misunderstanding results in arguments, divorces, hostility and, at its worst, wars. In your business, lack of clear understanding can mean missing out on some great potential partners and leaders.
Here are three specific actions to better understand people.

1. COMMUNICATE. Learning how to communicate means taking a proactive approach. Listen and learn how others feel; ask a question, listen to the reply, then respond.
Most people who feel “misunderstood” fail to realize that both understanding and being understood take action by both parties. It is either a two lane highway or a one-way, dead-end street.

2. LISTEN. So many of us try to be so darn interesting, when if we would just be more interested in others, we’d make a lot more headway.
Is what we have to say really all that interesting? Or do we just enjoy hearing ourselves talk? Is it that we can hardly wait for the other person to finish his sentence so we can have our say?
The only time understanding of any significance happens is when we connect. And connecting always means listening first—usually after asking a good question—and talking second.

3. EMPATHIZE. After listening, the next step is to accept without judging or interpreting. Only after we fully grasp where another is coming from, by putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, can we hope to have any chance of understanding that person.
People often don’t mean what they say. It’s not that they’re lying; they are speaking from emotion. Just to be certain, rephrase what you think they told you. “Just so I’m sure I understand you, you mean that…,” and then state as clearly as possible what you believe you heard. This gives you the opportunity to clearly communicate your understanding of what the other person meant, and bring your two understandings closer together.

Like most important things in life, doing all this is easier said than done. Seldom do two people ever understand each other fully—but that needn’t stop us from trying, or from doing our very best to master this critical key to success, happiness and fulfillment.

COREY CITRON is a successful network marketer who was featured in our Nov/Dec 2005 issue.