Although we all have them, our values may not be something we think about on a regular basis. In fact, if I were to ask you to list what your values were right now, could you do so without hesitation?
When we are placed into the position of thinking about and then naming our values, I have seen some people be able to do this within minutes, while others have taken in excess of over an hour to convey them to me. I’m not exaggerating the timeline on this, and I was impressed by both the speed at which someone could tell me their values, as well as the care in which people took to deliberate on what they are.
I think of values as providing us with guidelines on how we conduct ourselves, make decisions and prioritize how we allocate our resources (e.g., time, attention) based on having clearly defined ones. Having them can simplify our lives, and shouldn’t cause conflict, but sometimes they do. Particularly when your values are not in alignment with others.
When our values are misaligned with those we interact with (e.g., family, work, team), it can cause high levels of stress. Conversely, it can also quickly lead to deciding about how to reduce or eliminate the stress by providing you with a clear path forward when you are not willing to compromise your values. Yes, the outcome of your decision may not be in your favor, but there are circumstances where a middle ground of compromise may not present itself.
As I think about the people in my life who have clearly stated, or I could guess what their values are based on their actions, I wonder if they realize how they are broadcasting them? Of course, the values they have are ones I admire. Otherwise I would not be associating with them, and I have had to disconnect from some people in my life whose values were not in alignment with my own, and I guarantee you have done the same.
One of my friends wrote about a micromanager boss he had. Upon reading about one interaction he had with this boss, it brought back a PTSD flashback to several of these types of bosses I have unfortunately had. In my opinion, there is no room for this type of management style. It is incredibly harmful to both the individual experiencing it, and the effects can cascade beyond the person who is being impacted. What type of value would be represented by someone with micromanagement characteristics? Not one I am supportive of, and due to their actions, and my own values, I easily made the decision to part ways with the bosses who behaved this way.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to consider what your values are, I encourage you to do so. In fact, there are a number of suggestions I have to offer you to make going through this exercise well worth your time. Here they are:
- Are there consequences to the type of values you have? If there are, consider how you will negotiate a forward path, or whether your values will continue to provide you with challenges that you are willing to confront and accept the outcome from.
- Commit to writing down what your values are. Your list does not have to be exhaustive, but it should have between 3-10 values noted.
- If you know what your values are, have they changed over time, or have they remained the same. If they have changed, what were the circumstances which caused them to change? Honestly consider whether your values were enhanced or degraded?
- Most people strive to simplify their lives, even if it is only in some areas of it. Knowing what your values are will help you to achieve this.
- No one needs to know what your values are. However, I have found that when I have shared mine with others, they are honored with the fact I did so, and all of them either reciprocated with what theirs were, or said they were inspired to think about being able to express theirs with ease.
- Your values can be informally woven into conversations. For instance, expressing your values can serve you well in situations where you need to be able to articulate information about yourself when the questions or conversation you are having does not offer direct questions which would allow you to express this information.
- Consider how expressing your values in an interview might work in your favor. If they don’t, you will be fortunate to learn this early on that you will be out of synch with your potential boss and company.
- In personal scenarios, you can learn a lot about a person by asking them questions that will have them reveal their values. You can either ask them directly what their values are, or indirectly via other questions that will reveal this information (e.g., What are your thoughts on XYZ?).
Knowing what your values are can be a source of strength, and provide a clear path to helping you to make decisions of various levels of importance. You should also be proud of your values. If you are not proud of them, that’s a whole other topic which I’ll write about another time.
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