The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators: What questions should you be asking yourself?


The international bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold millions of copies around the world over the past 30 years. Stephen R Covey’s book has come to be a bookshelf staple for entrepreneurs, savvy academics and driven individuals who value its approach to problem-solving.

Previously, we have looked at how the world’s greatest communicators champion Covey’s seven habits. In the lead-up to this seminal book’s 30th anniversary, I look again at how you can apply these strategies to the way you communicate and consider the questions you should ask yourself in order to achieve this.


Habit 1) Be Proactive

To achieve Covey’s first habit – be proactive – you need to ask yourself a few key questions.

  • “Am I looking for new opportunities, or am I just coasting?”
  • “What can I do today to benefit my career in five years?”
  • “Who could I speak to in order to gain motivation and direction?”


Habit 2) Begin with the End in Mind

When Covey says, ‘Begin with the end in mind,’ he means that your communication needs to be clear about your final objective right from the beginning. Failure to be so will mean that your project could easily drift off course.

  • “Why are you starting this project in the first place?”
  • “What are you trying to achieve in the long run?”
  • “What does success look like for this project?”


Habit 3) Put First Things First

Covey advises us to structure our communication from the top down: put your most important message right up front. That way, everything that follows will be placed in the right context.

Ask yourself:

  • “What is the most important part of my message?”
  • “What do I want people to know first?”


Habit 4) Think Win-Win

By giving your audience what they want, you will also end up with what you want. It’s a true win-win situation.

  • “What does my target audience want from me?”
  • “What would make both of us happy?”
  • “What are our mutual pain points?”


Habit 5) Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Being a good listener is a skill that all good communicators need to cultivate. To truly be understood, Covey warns us that we must first understand.

Ask yourself:

  • “Am I giving the other party/parties my full attention?”
  • “Are we both making eye contact and using open body language?”
  • “Do I fully understand their message?”


Habit 6) Synergise

Covey describes synergy as ‘working together’ so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. By this rationale, working effectively with a team will always yield better results than working individually.

  • “How can I include my team in an effective way?”
  • “What does my team need to do their best work?”
  • “Does my team understand the end goal?”


Habit 7) Sharpen the Saw

Covey states that effective communicators consistently gain new skills, hone their existing skills, and engage in refresher exercises.

  • “What can I do to improve my skill set?”
  • “What kinds of exercises/courses/mentorships can I take part in?”

While you may have read Covey’s book in the past, you might not have entirely internalised its messages. By asking yourself these questions, you can truly harness the messages in the book and get the most out of its content.


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