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Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

What’s important to you? Your morning coffee? Making time to walk your dog? Getting that assignment to your boss on time? Okay, but what’s valuable to you?

According to Atlantic Magazine, 7 out of 10 Americans say people’s values have been getting worse in America over the past decade.[1] What are your personal values?

What Are Values?

Your values are a testament to your true self, because they are what matter most to you when it comes to personal and professional life.

Your values influence that little voice in your head that tells you whether or not to care about something, and how you should prioritize your time.

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.[2]

Your core values help determine what you truly want out of life, while simultaneously acting as the measuring stick you use to tell if you’re satisfied with your current situation and living in a meaningful way.

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Core values define who we are while helping us find our purpose. Here’re a few good examples of the core value words:[3]

  • Reliability
  • Dependable
  • Respectful
  • Loyal
  • Committed
  • Teamwork
  • Caring
  • Adventuros
  • Efficient
  • Listening
  • Diversity
  • Humility

Some of these values are instilled in you from childhood. They can be cultural or learned through watching your family and hearing their discussions about things they’re passionate about.

Perhaps now, in adulthood, you realize you’re passionate about those same things. It’s not a bad thing to share core values with those around you, but it can be detrimental to live a life that doesn’t honor those values.

How Do Core Values Affect Our Day-to-day Decisions?

We make decisions based on our values every day, but we sometimes forget about the important decisions we face, big and small, and the potential stress those choices can create.

When you can identify your values and make choices that align with them, life suddenly becomes a little easier. But when you’re running on autopilot and not allowing your values to coincide with your choices, you can find yourself becoming incredibly unhappy, and maybe you don’t know why.

Discovering your core values don’t help with huge aspects alone, they also impact seemingly small things, too. Remember that thing you bought that you didn’t really need, but you just felt like having? You made the decision that spending money wisely was not valuable to you. But is that truly how you feel? Now it’s the end of the month and bills are due. Perhaps it would be really helpful to have that money back, so it’s created stress. That disconnect stems from living a life that doesn’t correlate with your core values.

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When you begin to make those choices that seem small at the time knowing what you find valuable, you begin to feel less stress in other aspects of your life. This has a snowball effect, and leads to continued better choices and prolonged stress-free existence. And the best part is, there’s no hard work needed, just some introspection and self-awareness. And if simply sitting alone for a few minutes could impact the rest of your life in a positive way, wouldn’t it be worth it? After all, knowing your values make important decisions, like accepting a job, starting a business, or making a big change, much easier.

How Do We Find Out Our Personal Core Values?

Core values are important to us. By figuring out the things which matter to us most, we can lead a better life. Here’re two ways to find out your personal core values:

Start with what you already know about yourself; your morals.

Knowing your core values can certainly sync up with your morals. After all, your values have a direct impact on your standards of behavior.

Think about it: if it is morally important to you to arrive at your workplace and focus on nothing but work on company time, it will also be true that being an honest and efficient employee is a value you carry to every job you occupy.

Maybe you’re the kind of partner who puts their phone away when on a date. This probably means you are a morally loyal person and want to ensure your partner knows you value time with them. This is a strong indication that, as a core value, you put relationships first and work hard to show people you care. You could easily list respect and commitment to your list of personal core values.

Your own experience will be your best tool in realizing what’s valuable to you.

For instance, think back to a time you were the happiest. Why were you so happy? Was the fulfilment you felt due to other people? Who were they? Think about when you were proud of yourself, and why you felt that pride. Your own experiences can shine great light on what you hold important.

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And don’t be afraid to look ahead; what values do you want to exemplify to your children? If you want others to value it, it’s valuable to you.

What Should I Do With My Core Values?

Just sit down and make a list of what comes to mind, and let yourself explore those core values words. There is no set limit on how many values you can have, but allow yourself to list as many as you can.

Prioritize Your Values

If you wind up with 20 words, consider crossing out those that barely made the list and prioritize your values.

Personal development blogger Steve Pavlina suggested identifying the top value, then the second highest value, and so on until you’ve rebuilt the list in order of priority from the top to the bottom.[4] As you’re trying to prioritize the values, have this question at the back of your mind: if I have to choose from these, which one go first and which one I can live without?

Some of the words may easily float to the top, where as others might stump you. Allow that to happen and accept that it aids in teaching you who you are.

Look To Your Values Every Day

Once you’ve determined what your values are, it’s vital to look to them every day. We all face challenging situations and decisions, and Sam Whittaker put it best when he wrote,[5]

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All [people] are thrust into tough situations from time to time…situations where the right thing to do isn’t obvious. Knowing which values are most important to you before these situations arise will help make you make better decisions.

So, let your values be valuable to you. Everyone is on their own path, and no one can tell you what your core values are but you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Rework Your List In Future

When you realize your values and begin to live by them, you may find that not all of them are as important as you believed. Rework your list! You’re allowed to consciously change your values over and over again.

You are not your values. You are the thinker of your thoughts, but you are not the thoughts themselves. Your values are your current compass, but they aren’t the real you.[6]

Remember: Your values should aid in creating your best life, and your most authentic self. You make the rules. Be patient with yourself and dedicate the time to discovering your core values. You’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] The Atlantic: 21 Charts That Explain American Values Today
[2] MindTools: What Are Your Values?
[3] ContentSparks: Big List of Core Value Words
[4] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1
[5] Sam Whittaker: How to Define Your Personal Values
[6] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1

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Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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