Shared Values Can Lead To Positive Change
The most successful partners and teams have at their core a strong set of shared values. If you and another person believe or think the same kinds of things and experiences are important about the work you do or the life you lead, you’ll be able to work together to problem solve and share the positive results after. The blending made possible by your shared values allows you to work through differences without the differences undermining your work, to disagree without being disagreeable.
Here’s the case in point:
Susan’s husband Mark runs a small business providing educational software for home-schoolers. Susan does the sales calls and maintains the website. Mark designs the software, writes all the updates and provides the tech support for his customers. But most of what he does is computer programming.
Day after day, he sits in front of his computer working on lines of code. It’s hard work, it requires a great deal of focus, and he must be meticulous in doing it or the code becomes buggy and dysfunctional and then he’s overwhelmed with his clients’ technical problems.
When Susan walks in and invites him to go on a walk, he can barely look up to notice her. Yet it’s not for lack of love or desire. In fact, he loves his wife, and she knows this because he says it and shows it regularly, in both large ways and small. And he values his health, which she also knows because it was one of the shared values they had built their relationship on. Yet his neglect of these values is running him down. He’s become surly, unpleasant to deal with, looks run down, and it’s starting to effect the way he handles tech support calls.
Susan finds a moment when he is taking a break and tells him, “I have so much respect for the responsible way you go about your work. You’re amazing. (Positive intent and positive projection) But I can’t help but wonder what you think and how you feel about getting so caught up in your work that sometimes, and often lately, you don’t find time to get any exercise or fresh air, or have a little quality time with me.”
At first, he is reluctant to stop. So she waits, quietly, looking at him expectantly, as if he is going to answer. And it works. He tells her he feels just awful about it, expresses that he’s really stressed about time, and confesses that he feels terribly conflicted every time she comes into his office. “Maybe your work would be easier if you stopped and cleared your head once in a while?” He nods, then says, “I wish I had time for that.”
She knows this is true. So she asks him , “What do you suppose your day would it be like if you planned a little time in your work day to take a walk with me, and talk with me? How would that effect the quality of your work? The way you use time?
She gives him a moment to think about the question, then adds, “Is it possible that this might actually help you take care of two things you care about at the same time – your health, and spending time with me, and it might even help you concentrate better when you’re writing code?”
And as he answers the questions to himself, he experiences a lessening of the conflict that he feels, sees the way through that she proposed, and that prompts him to do exactly what she asked about.
What values do you share with the people you work with? Live with? What question might you ask to bring those values into focus? Your comments, feedback and suggestions are valued and welcome here.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.