The 7 Habits of Highly effective people is a fantastic book. I am still appreciating its wisdom years later.
The hardest habit for me has been the most effective in my career. Seek first to understand, and then be understood. Too often when we talk to others we want to convince them of our position, but first, you must understand them and show them that you know their position.
I think part of the problem right now in society is that we have people who don’t want to understand the other person’s position. They think the other person’s position is without merit and has no logical basis. This is rarely true. There is some truth in almost everything, and even if something is not logically true it is emotionally true for someone and that is just as valid for some people.
Then what we deal with others is not logic, but the emotion that they can’t separate from their logic/beliefs. This is where therapy can be useful to help separate what is helpful to believe and what isn’t helpful. For some people, even when they say they see the logical contradiction they can’t make the connection. Their emotions keep them blind to reality.
Therefore, the most helpful thing we can do for others is to explore why they believe what they do in a friendly and non-judgmental way. Ask them to help you understand how they feel and think. Listen to what they are saying. Don’t argue. Listen and then once you understand why their belief is that way ask them if it is truly their belief or something they adopted to survive in the environment they are in. I think that what you will realize is that it is convenient to be racist when everyone is racist and that beliefs are more about the social environment than true allegiance.
For example, many people in the place where I grew up were racist. They felt it was necessary to separate themselves like that since the people they were racist towards were doing manual labor. Certainly, they were better than those folks in their own minds. I helped the people discriminated against, and I didn’t need to consider myself better than them. We are all human and any artificial divisions to me were less important than our shared humanity. For some, they can’t seem to stop needing to feel superior to others. It’s a sickness in their soul/heart and needs more help than we can give them.
Seek first to understand, and then be understood. I try to live this difficult lesson each day.