My husband's taking a course at work, and tonight he brought some homework for me to do for his course. He handed me a thick stack of cards with various values on them (Knowledge, Excellence, Clarity, Uniqueness, Diversity, etc). First I had to sort them into three piles - very important, somewhat important, not important. Next I had to go through the "Very Important" stack and pick out the top six values that were most important to him. Then I went through the "Not Important" stack and picked out the six that were least important to him. Then we compared lists, since he had already gone through this exercise for himself during the class.
A coworker who took this course a while ago told me that in his class, some of his peers' wives had put 'family' in the top six for their husbands, and none of the husbands had included it. I remembering thinking about this situation and wondering what the core problem was... did the wives really not know their husbands' values? Were the husbands acting out a role without valuing it that highly? Did the husbands not want to list a "sappy" value in their top six in front of their working peer group? Or were there just too many cards?
What we learned from doing this exercise is that I know him very well (which begs the question, is "Understanding" something that he values highly? :-). Although we didn't have everything exactly the same, it was quite close, and as we discussed them we realized that where our answers diverged, we often meant the same thing but chose two slightly different words to represent it (such as "Knowledge" vs "Wisdom").
It was an interesting exercise to go through, both for self-awareness as well as seeing how someone close to you perceives you. Plus, it has led us to some good discussions, for example: "Which do you value more highly, honesty or intelligence?".