Understanding people makes the difference


The ability to understand people is one of the greatest assets anyone can ever have. It has the potential to positively impact every area of your life, not just the business arena. For example, look at how understanding people helped this mother of a preschooler.

Leaving my four-year-old son in the house, I ran out to throw something in the trash. When I tried to open the door to get back inside, it was locked. I knew that insisting my son open the door would have resulted in an hour-long battle of the wills. So in a sad voice, I said, “Oh, too bad. You just locked yourself in the house.” The door opened at once.

Understanding people certainly impacts your ability to communicate with others. David Burns, a medical doctor and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, observed, “The biggest mistake you can make in trying to talk convincingly is to put your highest priority on expressing your ideas and feelings. What most people really want is to be listened to, respected, and understood. The moment people see that they are being understood, they become more motivated to understand your point of view.” If you can learn to understand people – how they think, what they feel, what inspires them, how they’re likely to act and react in a given situation – then you can motivate and influence them in a positive way.

from The Maxwell Daily Reader

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  1. 1
    Taylor Scott says:

    I totally agree, “listening” is a lost art in today’s society. I recently wrote a blog post on the same topic last week at my new blog – OneMoreStepRevolution. The post was entitled, “Everybody’s Talking…What About Listening?”


    Thanks for sharing, John

  2. 2
    Michele-Rene says:

    Understanding Makes The Difference! I Love The Little Boy Story Dr. Maxwell!! :-) Adoreable! But, The Principal Is Global. Listening, With An Open Mind, Breeds Understanding. We Are All Different, Created Different, Environmentally Different, Social Different, etc. People Are A Study and What Makes The World Go Round. People Are The World. If We Want The World To Work For Us, for Others, We Must Develop The Art of Listening, The Heart of Understanding, and the Gift of Desire That Others Be Positively Motivated and Influenced! That’s Life! Good Life!

  3. 3

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  4. 4
    amos says:

    learnt a lot from this message on understanding people.thanx a million brother Maxwell

  5. 5
    Ricky says:

    Understanding people is one of the hardest practices to master.
    But the joy of experiencing another person NOT self-destruct because of our guidance is a joy with great return.

  6. 6
    Marco Nisin says:

    I can see that in my job. My boss is an Engineer and he also is a psychologist and the way he respect everyone make the different. Greetings Mr. Maxwell

  7. 7
    Christy Moosa says:

    Respect as individuals

    Most employers expect their people to perform, but even before we are employees, we are first of all people. Our position as a leaders is strengthened when we can relate to others in all areas of life. What are your people are passionate about?

    Each of your employees are mothers, fathers, coaches, maybe musicians or artists, seek to relate to your people on personal level to some degree and they will perform better as employees. People, no matter where there are in life, like to be valued, appreciated and heard when they speak
    Your relationship and respect will encourage them to perform for you and in return give you an opportunity for them to respect you when you speak.

  8. 8
    Terry D. Smith says:

    I totally agree and appreciate what you indicated in your article John. Since I deal with large numbers of the public, I have honed this acquired skill and have found it to be very effecitive. Thank you for all you are and all you do, appreciate you, Terry :-)

  9. 9
    Lauren says:

    I am a talker…not a speaker…a talker. And I have the feeling that many think because I talk that I’m not listening. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think people would be shocked at what I know about them. I have asked God to help me “tame my tongue”. I would like to be known as someone of compassion … and in many ways I believe I am. Why else would people seek me out for advice? Where is the line that we move from listening to responding appropriately? I always fear I step over the line too soon. I realize I’m making this all about me…but I really want it to be all about “them”…the ones who are asking for help.

  10. 10

    Thanks for this truth. Listening is important, that’s why we have two ears & one mouth.

  11. 11
    Brenda says:

    Thanks Mr Maxwell awesome stuff.

  12. 12
    katia68 says:

    I do want to be a better listener especially for my loved ones. It is a quality above others. Thanks for a great post.

  13. 13
    Chrisenthia says:

    Thanks so much for that article. I’m a mum who’s dealing with a 7 year old and at times it makes me cry and ask to be understood but now I know I have to understand rather than try to be understood. God bless you Dr. Maxwell.

  14. 14

    This is absolutely true. How i wish my former employers learned about this. This is very informative. Thank you very much Dr.John.

  15. 15
    Keith S. Aul says:

    One of the habits of Highly Effective People for Steven Covey is: Seek First to Understand Then to be Understood.

    A highly effective salesperson will first seek to understand the needs of the customer. And once fully understanding the customer needs and concerns the salesperson will suggest a solution

  16. 16
    Yvonne Green says:

    In today’s world active listening plays such a crucial role when it comes to communicating and even more importantly to connect. To be an effective communicator it takes connecting with the other person it really is about the other person.

  17. 17

    I could not agree more. When people know that you care about whta matters most to them, they will always care more about what matters to you. I am a speaker and have had to learn to listen more than I speak. This has had a great impact of improving my speaking. I reaslise that when I just speak to people they connect with their minds but when I listen to them they connect with their hearts. Thanks John for the powerful thoughts.

  18. 18

    […] Understanding people makes the difference […]

  19. 19
    Vinod mehra says:

    Brilliant real life example. ” be in others shoes”

  20. 20

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