Few needs of the human heart are greater than the need to be understood- to have a voice that is heard, respected, and valued- to have influence. Most believe that the key to influence is communication- getting your point across clearly and speaking persuasively. In fact, if you think about it, don’t you find that, while others are speaking to you, instead of really listening to understand, you are often busy preparing your response? The real beginning of influence comes as others sense you are being influenced by them- when they feel understood by you- that you have listened deeply and sincerely, and that you are open. But most people are too vulnerable emotionally to listen deeply- to suspended their agenda long enough to focus on understanding before they communicate their own ideas. Our culture cries out for, even demands, understanding and influence. However, the principle of influence is governed by mutual understanding born of the commitment of at least one person to deep listening first.