Improve Your Relationships Based on Your Values – Part 1

This article was published in Brainzmagazine.com on August 30.

Think about the last time you had a conflict with someone. What was driving the disagreement? What was your view? What was their view? Was the conflict based on a miscommunication? Or, was the conflict rooted in a difference in personal values?


In my work experiences and observations through my own ups and downs in life, I have determined that there are generally two reasons we encounter conflict. One reason is an unmet need. This unmet need may be a need that was never expressed or was unclear to others.


Another reason we encounter conflicts is because of misaligned personal values. Personal values are rarely discussed openly and frankly in our conversations. Having conversations about our personal values can help us avoid conflicts by identifying our personal values, defining our values, and outlining a strategy for interacting with others.


Some examples of personal values are family, freedom, creativity, security, loyalty, intelligence, structure, integrity, commitment, cleanliness, trust, honesty, faith, and autonomy. If you Google ‘personal values,’ you will find dozens of examples.


Not surprisingly, we are likely to encounter a conflict or frustration when our highest values are opposite of those of others. For example, if an employee highly values autonomy but their manager's leadership style is driven by their value of the structure, there could be a conflict between them about how work gets done. Not only would the employee and manager want to first identify their values, but they would also need to define what 'autonomy' and 'structure' means to them. The employee and manager can use these definitions to find a common goal, how they will achieve this goal, and ultimately, how they will know when they have met this goal successfully.


By reflecting on our top three to five personal values, we can better communicate our needs and understand conflicts - whether it’s in our personal or professional lives. We can open ourselves up to asking others what their values are, and we can respectfully make requests and engage in positive, constructive discussions. Within a team, clarity around each other’s values can help to establish group norms, ground rules, and behaviors that facilitate mutual respect resulting in increased collaboration and productivity. In part 2 on this topic next month, I will share an exercise you can use for reflecting on personal values.

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