Transcript: Dr. Stephen Covey

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 11, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: We have seen what filibusters can do to the Senate. What if corporate America had them? How much would that change the way it operated on its day-to-day decision-making?

Let's ask the best-selling author Dr. Stephen Covey, whose "8th Habit" followed on the highly successful "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People." I discovered I'm not one of them. Dr. Covey is the AOL better life coach.

Doctor, good to have you back.


CAVUTO: Nowhere in corporate America do I know they exercise something called a filibuster. No board can allow a minority to dictate to the majority. Yet, in the Senate, it's OK. What's the deal with that?

COVEY: Well, it would be absolutely ludicrous. It would be frustrating to everyone. Everyone would lose to try to get this attacking, low-trust, defending, pointing the finger.

But I think it's just a symptom of a deeper problem. And I think we're seeing it in many, many other dimensions inside our government right now. The problem, deeper problem, is that there isn't a commitment to the people, to an overarching commitment. Everyone has their angle toward it. But the same thing happened with our founding fathers. The Iroquois Federation, the Indian Iroquois Federation taught them to use the Indian talking stick form of communication.

And I'm convinced that it impacted the miracle that took place at Philadelphia. The whole idea behind is it that you always let the other person who has the talking stick be the speaker, until they feel understood. What happens is that they express their point and their feeling as strongly as they wish. And the other only seeks to understand and restate it to their satisfaction.

As soon as they achieve that, then the talking stick is passed to the other person. Then they have the same privilege. And the other person listens to understand. As this goes back and forth, the whole energy changes from being defensive and negative into becoming creative and synergistic, meaning everyone benefits more. Our country would benefit more.

CAVUTO: In other words, those with opposing viewpoints, even their minority viewpoints, let them be heard, but it wouldn't go so far as to letting them stop this process, right?

COVEY: Absolutely not, because they get to be heard, respected, understood, not necessarily agreed with. And the other side does the same thing.

When that happens, literally, it's like air to the body. To be understood is to the heart. You gradually see a lessening of the defensiveness and the hostility that is stalemating this whole situation.

CAVUTO: But, Steve, the fact of the matter is, if you look at the makeup of the Senate today and the harsh divergent red state/blue state type of positions a lot of these senators take — and, by the way, Republicans were guilty of this when they were in the minority — in the minority. And now Democrats are guilty of doing this.

Why don't we just get rid of the filibusterer, period — corporations have never entertained doing something so silly — and just move on, yea or nay on business initiatives, just like boards do all the time, yea or nay on judicial appointments, just like the Senate should be doing all the time.

COVEY: I agree with that. And that's what we have had traditionally.

This other thing has been a recent invention, this filibuster. It isn't something that we have always had from the beginning. That way, it's an up-and-down vote, and then they can take their rightful place of giving their counsel and their advice.

CAVUTO: I know the Senate protects this right, because it makes senators feel important, I guess. But there are dissident shareholders in corporate America. Roy Disney is probably among the more famous at Disney. Is that the route, route that he takes, probably preferable than the route that others might take in the Senate to disrupt the entire process?

COVEY: I think, in a low-trust culture, that may be a route to take, so that at least every point of view is listened to genuinely and respected and understood, not necessarily agreed with.

But, as the trust goes higher in the culture and people deal with each other with more civility, I honestly believe that synergy is possible. And that's what happened in the creation of our Constitution. It wasn't a compromise. It was a synergistic product.

CAVUTO: All right. Stephen Covey, always a pleasure. Thanks for being on.

At first, I thought it was a pipe and you were going to smoke it, but I'm glad you didn't do that.


CAVUTO: But, Dr. Stephen Covey of "The 8th Habit" fame, thank you, sir. Always a pleasure.

COVEY: Thank you, Neil.

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