Mr. Covey tells us that the four autobiographical responses (listening to people through the lens of our own experience) that most people use have their place in the world. But they alone do not cut it when it comes to effective communication.
Agreeing or disagreeing with others when they talk to us about things isn’t always what they’re after. Probing and playing twenty-questions is more than likely to cause people to shut down more rather than open up.
People don’t generally like receiving advice when they know that you don’t really understand their problem. Playing interpreter; trying to figure people out based on what your own motivations in life are isn’t going to earn you points either.
All of these things we naturally do. But Mr. Covey writes that we really should only offer these responses “when invited to” rather than automatically.
Covey indicates here that it really is better to absorb what’s being said, plus the emotion behind it. After we’ve reflected upon what we are sensing emotionally, as well as hearing from that individual, only then should we respond to what’s being said.