6 Steps to Improve Self-Awareness & Relationships

Updated: Jul 20

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 it based on a miscommunication or something that was unclear to either or both of you? Or, was it about how to approach or do something that you felt was 'right' or 'wrong' in contrast with this person?

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 the result of an unmet need based on a request not made or a request that is unclear. Another reason is the result of misaligned personal values. They both rely on clear and open communication but we rarely think about discussing or disclosing personal values in our conversations. It just doesn't come naturally and isn't something we think much about in our day to day interactions. However, our values motivate us and guide many of our decisions including what we choose when we 'go with our gut'. So in this article I outline a strategy for identifying value conflicts in order to shift our response and so we can improve how we feel and interact with others when we are frustrated or in conflict.

Examples of some personal values are: family, freedom, creativity, security, loyalty, intelligence, structure, integrity, commitment, cleanliness, trust, honesty, faith, autonomy, etc. If you Google personal values you will find dozens of examples.

The more we value something, the higher the likelihood we could encounter a conflict or frustration with someone whose highest values are opposite of ours or, very low on their value list. For example, from the list above, if an employee has a very high value around autonomy but their manager's leadership style is driven by structure, there could be conflict between them about how work gets done. It would be important for both individuals to explain what 'autonomy' and 'structure' looks like to each of them. Then they can have a discussion about common goals by defining what success looks if they were to both respect each others values to achieve these common goals.

We can minimize value conflicts in working and personal relationships by getting clear on our top 3-5 personal values and sharing them with our friends, loved ones and peers so others can understand our point of view. Conversely, it is as important to ask and understand others' values to learn how to respectfully make requests and engage in positive, constructive discussions. These discussions can build the foundation for more respectful, clear lines of communication which can produce improved mutual results. Within a team, clarity around each others' values can help to establish group norms, ground rules and behaviors that facilitate mutual respect resulting in increased collaboration and productivity.

It is difficult to pinpoint values from a long list where everything may appear important. In fact, identifying our highest values tend to reveal themselves when conflict or frustrations arise. We just need to stop and notice these moments to assess the value being compromised. These points of resistance tell us something is off and if we can notice patterns around these instances, we can attach the value in conflict to respond more appropriately. Follow these six steps to improve your self awareness, reduce stress and improve your relationships:

  1. Every day for one week, log instances where you encounter conflict or feel frustration, either with yourself or with another person. Jot down the date, time and a few words about the situation and the possible trigger so you can recall it later.

  2. At the end of the week, Google “personal values”.

  3. Find a list of at least 30. Rank order your top 10 and then circle the top 5.

  4. Refer to your conflict/frustration log. Review your top five values and where relevant, identify those instances where it is clear that one of your values was in conflict.

  5. Moving forward, think about how you might be able to alter your thought process around a similar situation should it occur again and make a note of those ideas next to that item in the log.

  6. Practice changing your thoughts around frustrating situations or disagreements based on this exercise and consider how this impacts your mood, productivity and interactions with others.

Consciously recognizing and sharing which of our values are challenged in conflict or frustration-causing situations can help us think and act more proactively and positively to reduce stress and engage more constructively with others. Although we can't avoid uncomfortable or challenging circumstances, understanding why we react to them the way we do allows us to live in a state of higher awareness. In this state we can make decisions that better align with our true and best self. Andrea Raggambi www.PerforMore.biz

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