The title question might be an odd one to ask in a blog post about communication. But I assure you it’s timely. Today’s topic is values, and in my experience as a coach, many people haven’t given the topic much thought let alone explored in depth what their values are.
What are values?
Values form the blueprint for what’s important to us. We make decisions in our lives based on our values. Values are different for everyone. Solitude, integrity, adventure, collaboration. There are all kinds of combinations!
Our values also form a significant part of our unique communication blueprint, and we consciously or unconsciously communicate based on our values. When we know what our values are, we can understand why we behave the way we do in our interactions. We can also understand why others behave the way they do, and that’s a recipe for understanding and empathy in any interaction.
How values show up in communication
Personal story. Connection is a top value of mine, so when I communicate, I tend to do so from a place of vulnerability to give connection in an interaction and then I ask a lot of questions, because I like to get to know the person I’m speaking to on a deeper level to receive connection.
There are numerous examples. We all know the guy who’s just so damn funny – at work, at home, in the grocery story, and maybe even annoyingly so in situations where it doesn’t call for it. It’s because humour is a value for him. How about the manager who goes on about hitting the next milestone or besting the latest results? She’s not doing it to irritate you. It’s because she values accomplishment or maybe even competition.
A cautionary note
It’s possible to go too far with your values in an interaction – like the guy using humour at a less than ideal time. That’s where conscious awareness of our values works to our advantage. With awareness, we know what our values are and we can choose how we’ll act when they’re met or not met, as well as when we find ourselves in situations that may present us with people who have values that are different or conflicting with ours. Think now that each person around you has their own list of values governing the way they communicate and that conflicts often arise when conflicting values are in the room. It’ll change the way your interactions unfold.
Whose values are they anyway?
The most important question we must ask when we’re exploring our values is which ones are imposed on us by family, culture or the society we live in? Values such as safety and control often come from threatening situations we may have found ourselves in when we were kids. Imposed values feel constricting and closed off, and they prevent us from being our best selves. Because they’re others’ values and unnatural to who we are, when we communicate from them, we don’t communicate from our personal power and we come across inauthentic.
You want to embrace the values that are uniquely yours and consciously chosen by you. These values feel authentic, expansive and freeing. They will inspire you to be your best self and live your best life. When you communicate from them, you’ll stand firmly in your personal power and you’ll build trust and relationships effortlessly and easily.
Getting to know your values
How confident do you feel in knowing what your values are? If you answer very, I challenge you to take it a step further and observe how your values are showing up in your communication. How are your values being met in communication where you’re fully in your personal power versus when you’re in a conflict situation?
If you’ve got some work to do in learning more about your values, that’s totally OK. Now’s the perfect time to start! A simple Google search for “values” will provide lists upon lists of them. Find a list you like and circle to the best of your ability the values you think are uniquely yours and then observe yourself in your interactions. Which ones come out stronger than others? Can you see others’ values come through in the way they communicate?
When we know who we are, we can ask for what we want and express ourselves confidently and clearly. That is powerful communication!
You’ll be preferentially surprised in our next post about how differently we process information and what that means for the way you and others communicate! Come back in two weeks to find out more.