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Navigate Values Conflict

30 May 2024

This article wraps up our deep dive into your values and their impact on your career decisions.

To bring it all together let's look at some typical conflicts so you can be prepared for the angst their conflict might create.

Broadly speaking values can be grouped under four main categories:

Change
Conserve
Self
Others


You can probably already see the inherent struggles there can be in these, but lets look a little closer.

Change values are ones like creativity, exploration, mastery, freedom, independence, excitement, stimulation, self-direction, variety.

Conserve values encompass values like tradition, conformity, safety, harmony, stability, security, cleanliness, order, belonging, restraint, politeness, loyalty, solidarity, respect, humility.

Self values are about self-enhancement and encompass achievement, power, success, competency, ambition, influence, intelligence, prestige, control, wealth.

Others values are linked to self-transcendence and care for others and for causes, so think benevolence, affiliation, helping, honesty, forgiving, responsibility, loyalty, friendship, cooperation, tolerance, appreciation, justice, equity, peace, wisdom.

With these broad definitions take some time look at your own values and group them according to the four main categories.  It is OK if some values don't neatly fit into a category - that is to be expected as the groupings are more of a continuum.  It might be easier to use the four categories as corners, then place your values where they fit best for you.  A bit like the below, although yours are likely to cluster in a completely different way:

Values Distribution
Take a look at your values distribution and note down what comes up for you.  Write a few lines that consider where values conflicts might emerge.  A classic is the one between change and conserve.  People often express it when they are considering a new job (change) but are held back by the security (conserve) of their current conditions.

Another useful exercise is to overlay a map your organisation/team values onto your personal values and again look for where there might be tensions.

Most of the time the tension between values isn't too fraught and they are fairly easy to navigate with a little bit of compromise between the values in conflict.  Sometimes, and over time, the tension grows stronger and the version of yourself you aspire to be demands that you choose between some values. My hope is that with your new found knowledge of your values and how they can be in conflict you will now navigate these decisions earlier and more consciously.

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.

Katherine

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