People in a relationship can benefit from examining their values separately and then comparing what they have in common.
People in a relationship can benefit from examining their values separately and then comparing what they have in common. Photo Pablographix

The difference between values you think and those you do

WHAT are values? One definition is "principles or standards of behaviour; one's judgment of what is important in life". They could also be described as our internal drivers or compass that helps guide us through life and navigate its ups and downs.

Have you ever considered your values?

You may or may not be consciously aware of them, yet they are an intrinsic part of your uniqueness and are revealed in what you do and how you do it. You are likely to have five to seven core values - those that are most important to you, the ones that are established once we reach maturity, and some of which may have been sown early in life when demonstrated by those around us. Once adopted, they are unlikely to change, although the hierarchy may vary, depending on what is happening in our life and taking our attention.

You may also have around 10-15 other values that sit around, and possibly link to, the core ones, and they may change over time as we develop and adapt to our changing environment. The important thing to note is that what we sometimes believe are our values may be espoused, ie talked about, rather than embraced and modelled. Again, it will be clear from our behaviour.

For example, if one of your values is honesty, but you gossip behind someone's back about them, I would suggest that honesty is espoused for you. Or if you say that care for the environment is a value and then mindlessly dispose of rubbish or waste water, then it may not be a value you truly embrace.

As I mentioned, our personal values are central to who we are and, if we ever feel challenged by someone, it can be due to values. So whether in our primary relationship, with friends, family or at work, misalignment between our own and another's values can lead to tension and cause conflict.

If you haven't already explored your own values, I invite you to consider that, as it will be insightful and help you recognise what you care deeply about. If you are in a relationship, it would be worth both doing it separately and then discussing those you have in common (which could form the base for your relationship values) and those that differ.

Recognising and respecting each other's values creates a stable platform for any relationship, and will help you support and appreciate each other more, particularly in the difficult times.

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned: