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Values: What Why and How the Person Centred Way

Recently whilst writing my online course on Creating Family Harmony I was searching for some good information on values, what they are, why they are important and how to work with them in a team or family. What I found was information that was often at the same time, overly simplistic and over complicated.

I have worked with many leaders, teams and families around values for a long time now and from this work it is clear that values, as a list to aspire to, can be easy to create and mandate adherence to (the simplistic part) but difficult to live. At the same time leaders and teams can over complicate the process of creating and implementing values. This could be because of a lack of clarity about the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’. A feeling of “Why on earth we are creating them anyway. How will they help us?”

So lets have a look at the “What’ “Why” and “How”.

What are Personal Values?

In a nutshell, values are the things that are important to us. They underpin our moral compass and keep us on the straight and narrow. They are linked to our personal standards. When one of our values has not been met, or we feel it has been violated, we can feel very uncomfortable, upset or annoyed.

Personal values can vary between people and can include things like honesty, respect, family, learning, kindness, integrity, creativity, love, certainty, competence, fitness, health and humour. I could list hundreds more. Our values are very personal.

What Are Workplace and Corporate Values?

Values in the workplace are usually generated through a process of consultation and represent what is important to an organisation or team. They are the way the organisation or team want to be and want to be seen to be. Families being teams also have shared values.


Why Is It Important That We Are Clear About Our Values

Personally, in families and at work, values, have meanings for each of us and we each have rules around them. By understanding both our personal values and our workplace or family values and our individual and collective rules around them we can increase harmony and productivity.

A rule around a value is how we expect that value to be met according to our own standards. For example, imagine I have personal value of collaboration and for me collaboration means sitting face to face with people discussing how things will be and deciding via consensus who will do what. That is my rule around collaboration.

This becomes important if collaboration is also a personal value for you, or an organisational value that we have both signed up for and your rule around collaboration is different to mine. For example, if your rule around collaboration, is gathering opinions via email, collating them and letting people know who should do what, you can imagine we may experience some tension when we work together.

Tension or conflict around values occurs because:

  • We are not aware of our own values
  • We don’t know what others value
  • We have made an assumption that other people hold the same values and rules that we do.
  • We know we share the same values (personal or organisational) and we have made an assumption that other people have the same rules around them that we do.

How Can we Create Shared Understandings

Creating a shared understating around values in our families and in our workplaces is an antidote to assumptions, tension and conflict. The key to shared understanding is developing a culture of continuing conversation around what is important to each of us and all of us in organisations, teams and families.

To do this we need to:

  • Know our personal values and our rules around each of them
  • Be aware that we make assumptions as short cut to making sense to all of the information we have coming at us all the time
  • Be aware that assumptions are just that, they are not facts and they come from within us, from our own experiences
  • Work on noticing when we are making an assumption related to one of our values and question that within ourselves
  • Have a conversation based on curiosity with others about:
  • What our values are and how we live them (our rules)
  • What their values are and how they live them
  • What is already shared between us (families and teams)
  • What is different and how can we best work with and create new understandings from our differences to find harmonious ways of working
  • Recognise that these conversations must be ongoing and be part of workplace or family culture. A one off conversation or annual presentation is not enough for ongoing shared understanding.

I am interested to hear about your experiences with values either personal, workplace or family.

To find out more about my 6 hour online values based course for Mums on Creating Family Harmony.




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