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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Redux: Habit 6 – Synergize

SynergyistheactofgettingalonginharmonywithboththosearoundusandourselvesEachoftheprevioushabitshavehelpedbringustoapointwherewecanactintandemwithpeopleinordertoachievegreatrelationshipsandmutuallybeneficialoutcomes
This post is part of my “7 Habits Redux Series” in which I take another look at the “7 Habits of Highly Effective people” 6 years after my first reading of it. All posts in the series are listed here, and you can read my 2008 take on the 7 habits here.

synergize (verb) to cooperate with another or others, esp. to remedy something

The 6th Habit of Synergy stems from our previous mastery of the previous 5 Habits. In order to combine and work together as a co-operative group we need to be proactive, know what we want to achieve, how to achieve it, understand compromise and what the other party desires.

Synergy means we realise that the greater good is more important than any personal gain that may happen from our interactions with others. When you communicate synergistically with each other, you open yourself up to understanding the other persons point of view, seeing their desired outcome and being able to merge your needs with theirs in order to come to a mutually beneficial conclusion; it’s a two way conversation that you both hold with each other, rather than a one way rant.

Many times when we communicate with each other, even if we’re not employing habits 4 and 5 there can be a “Me First” or an “I need to win” mentality from the other person. Using Habit 4 and Habit 5 allows us to move into synergistic communication and truly work towards habit four’s Win/Win outcome.

If you open up to a person, you will discover shared experiences and emotions. In doing this your Emotional Bank Account Balance will increase and the other person will be more likely to share their thoughts and fears with you thanks to your improved trust level, thereby starting s synergistic two-way discussion.

If Habit 5 teaches us to listen to people and understand their point of view, Habit 6 teaches us to open up and be genuine in order to have a mutually fulfilling conversation.

Trust and communication are heavily interlined. A high level of trust leads to a Win/Win level of communication as shown in the following diagram:

Synergistic Commuincation Graph

If you’re to compromise and achieve a Win/Win outcome you need to reach common middle ground in your communications. Covey calls this the “Third Alternative”: it’s not an either/or outcome but a “both”.

There is such a thing as “negative” synergy. Some people are intent on showing and cementing their position of power: they opt for a Win/Lose outcome or, if they want to be popular they go for a Lose/Win outcome. Either way they are manipulating the situation for their own benefit and acting with negative synergy in mind.

In order to become synergistic, we need to value our differences, they make us who we are and shape how we see the world. Understanding that we’re all different is the key to communicating with synergy. We recognise that each of us sees a situation differently (remember the Old/Young woman in Habit 1?) and we strive to understand the others point of view.

There are two sets of forces that act on us when we’re trying to be synergistic: Restraining and Driving Forces.

The two opposing forces act upon each other in competition when we’re trying to communicate and it’s only when they’re balanced that we can achieve compromise by using, as Covey puts it, the “motive of Habit 4, the skill of Habit 5 and the interaction of Habit 6” to work on the negative restraining forces, pushing them into synergy with our driving forces (or vice-versa depending on your standpoint in the conversion).

Being synergistic means understanding the is no “right” or “wrong” point of view, just an opinion. Seeing discussions this way leads to a mutually beneficial outcome that is the ideal compromise for all involved.

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