Conquer Conflict At Work/Uncovering the Core Values at the Heart of Conflict

Friday, March 10, 2023

Uncovering the Core Values at the Heart of Conflict

Uncovering the core values of a conflict requires a careful examination of the beliefs and attitudes that drive each party's actions and behaviors. By following these three simple steps, you can gain a better understanding of the values at the heart of a conflict, which can help you find ways to resolve the dispute.

Uncovering the Core Values at the Heart of Conflict

Core Values. The basic, fundamental beliefs that we hold as individuals that influence our worldview, expectations, and interactions.

They work in the background like the operating system for your cell phone and silently guide you through life as you navigate challenging situations, make decisions and interact with others. Like a personal mission statement, our values are the heart of what it means to live a fulfilling life.

Examples of core values are:

  • Respect
  • ​Trust
  • ​Honesty
  • ​Integrity
  • ​Equity

These core values are assumed to be shared among those around us, and this assumption is often the heart of conflict.
Values show up in coaching sessions all the time and exploring values with my clients creates some impactful learning.
Value are concept words, and while the dictionary can provide an overall state or feeling of the words meaning, individual experiences will dictate its true meaning and expression.

It is a critical exercise to understand how each person defines these values as a conflict resolution strategy.
This week a client talked about a coworker conflict. She felt disrespected by her coworkers behaviors so we spent some time exploring what respect looks like for the client. She defined it and gave examples of behaviors that would align with her definition of respect.

Then I asked her if she was acting in alignment with this definition.

An aha moment for the client.

She realized that she was expecting to receive respect but that she no longer respected the other person and was not giving respect.

This is one way in which our values create conflict. A part of her struggle is she was feeling misaligned with how she wanted to act and had given her power away to another person. We worked to create a vision where she would be both respectful and respected while disagreeing with another person.

Without understanding how the values show up on a personal level, resolution will be hard to achieve.

How to uncover what the core values at the heart of a conflict?

Try this fun exercise. It can be used as a team building activity or as a strategy to help those in conflict understand the roots of their issues.

  • Select one value to explore as a team, i.e. Respect
  • ​Ask each person to jot down words or short phrases to explain "respect"
  • ​Share and learn

You will likely see some overlap in the individual definitions such as "listening to my ideas"
You will also likely notice some differences. For example

Employee 1 writes down: including employees in decision making
Employee 2 writes down: Sharing information
Employee 3 writes down: Allowing flexible working hours

What they are sharing is likely connected to past or current experiences where they felt disrespected.

This information is golden for leaders. It gives you insights into each individual and what truly matters to them.

With further discussion around these unique definitions, you learn that employee 1 feels excluded, employee 2 feels they are set up to fail, and employee 3 is feeling micromanaged. These differences are risk factors for conflict, bullying, and turnover in your organization, and become action points for changing the culture.

Uncovering the core values of a conflict requires a careful examination of the beliefs and attitudes that drive each party's actions and behaviors. By following these steps, you can gain a better understanding of the values at the heart of a conflict, which can help you find ways to resolve the dispute.

If you would like to bring this to your organization in the form of coaching or workshops, reach out. I would love to help your organization thrive.

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