Munafo Core Values: MCV08 — Listen — Be Clear on What's Needed  


Listen — Be Clear on What's Needed

Here we should handle the individual-type listening first.

Listening to Yourself

Listening on an individual level usually means clearing away thought and being aware of the unspoken: my context, feelings, gut instinct, etc.

There is a process I must have learned somewhere (I don't remember where) that I use to free my action from being controlled by harmful emotion. I call it Iterative Awareness and it works like this1:

Please note that if fear or shame are involved, you might want to do the exercise alone — because telling someone about your fear might make you more afraid, and telling someone about your shame might make you more ashamed. In these cases you should probably do the exercise alone. Otherwise, you might want to have a close friend work through the exercise with you — having them witness your answers to the questions will strengthen the effect.

I often find that it helps immensely to do this exercise silently on my own before trying to address an issue that I have with someone else.

Listening to Others

If you aren't clear what's needed, just keep listening. Listening can include questions of clarification, but if you need clarification it is better (in one-on-one conversations) to restate what was said in your own words; this reassures the speaker that you are listening and helps them identify what details have been missed.

Remember that often "what's needed" is outright listening — no questions, no clarification. In Pulp Fiction there is a deleted scene that includes these lines:   MIA Do you listen or wait to talk?   VINCENT (pauses, thinking deeply) I wait to talk -- but I'm trying to listen.   One of the main challenges to listening occurs to people who have learned a lot and genuinely want to help — they are so aware of what they have to give that they stop paying attention to the person they are trying to help. It is almost always better to just let them talk it out. (There is much more on this in MCV10).

Golden and Platinum Rules

To illustrate listening I use something I call the "platinum rule" contrasted to the well-known golden rule:

The golden rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you.

The "platinum" rule: Treat others as they would have you treat them.

The golden rule requires no commitment to listening, the platinum rule requires lots of high-quality listening.

Here I will add a note to the effect that — the recommendation of Platinum Rule on the basis of the motivation for high-quality listening, runs across purposes with the recommendation to inspect people and not let them be controlled by their own delusions, biases and/or comfort zone. The interpretation "If a person wants to be coddled, the Platinum Rule tells us to identify this and comply" is not intended. Just as in MCV03 the core values lead in conflicting directions, and resolution of the conflict requires depth, trust and possibly intense confrontation, to determine the proper strategy and which core value should prevail (the core value of quality listening, or the core value of masculinity).

It is also important to notice, be aware of, and respect differences between yourself and others. The single biggest reason why the Golden Rule fails to work is that people using it (and to a greater extent, men) seem to want to treat others as if they have exactly the same mix of abilities and handicaps. Ignoring differences between people is lazy, simplistic, and places one at a competitive disadvantage.

Iterative Awareness of Others

The Iterative Awareness exercise is readily applied to listening to another person. When doing this, you should listen (and only listen, it may take great effort to avoid rebuttal) and the other person should speak, addressing each of the following specific questions in this order:

What happened is ... (Be very clear on what actually physically happened, that would be visible to a videocamera and unequvocably adreed on by witnesses)

What I interpreted, or judged, was... (Here you add everything else that you believe happened, distinguishing that these parts originated in your thoughts, intuition, etc. and may not be apparent to others)

How it made me feel is... (As a guideline, specifically indicate which of the common emotions was present: joy, sorrow, fear, anger, and/or shame.)

My hope for the future is/are... (Express this as a request of the universe at large, not of the person you are speaking to. You can only ask what you hope for the future. We have no right to tell another person how to run their life.

After saying all this, the listener can then respond only by acknowledging that the speaker was heard. It may be necessary to repeat and/or paraphrase, to ensure that they really believe you heard them.

As in the personal Iterative Awareness exercise, it is common to repeat the questions, perhaps switching roles each time, and to continue until a (relatively) positive result is achieved.

Although this process appears aimed at "dealing with negative emotion" it is actually quite effective for positive emotion situations too. Try using the process with your spouse, partner or significant other sometime, to address something they did that made you feel love or other good feelings towards them.

Active and Passive Listening

These concepts are defined here.

MCV08 for Teams

When this core value is present:

The team is unanimous in what it does. (+mcv8a)

The team does work that is needed and appropriate. (+mcv8b)

The team supports a member in ways consistent with that member's consent. (+mcv8c)

When this core value is lacking:

The team lacks clarity; stumbles over dissent; makes commitments without unanimous consent. (-mcv8a)

The team sets agendas, performs services, or gives help that is not needed or is inappropriate. (-mcv8b)

The team chooses how to support a member, without that member's consent. (-mcv8c)


1 : The six questions of Iterative Awareness closely parallel the levels of reality.


The "levels of awareness" ideas mentioned in several places crystallized during my Insight Awakening Heart Seminar ("Insight I") in 1997. I have no recollection how much the seminar helped but what the heck, let's give them some credit.

Most of the rest of this was a part of the old Sterling Men's Division culture prior to the year 2000.

Platinum Rule idea is from Tony Alessandra, who uses it in connection with his charisma material (which I read around 2002-2003).

Eric Levin, 200512

Micah Sakata, 20060131

An abbreviated "Iterative Awareness" process later made it into the Legacy Discovery event, but I know I did not play a role in that. I treat this as one of the many examples of things that evidence our common origins.

Pulp Fiction (Miranax, 1994) directed by Quentin Tarantino; screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary.

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