Do You Know Your Values

Do you know your values? In my experience, most people don’t? Your values probably drive your actions, but mostly from the subconscious. This must be why I have heard some people say, “Why did I do that?”

Every action or decision you make comes from your values. You make decisions and act according to them.

When you don’t know them, then they come into play subconsciously.

I facilitate workshops on communication, and I’m surprised by the percentage of participants who are not conscious of their top 10 values. Some know their primary five and others have no idea.

During the workshops, participants go through an exercise to identify their top ten.

I ask the participants to call out any value and write it on the board. This can be a slow process as they struggle to come up with any. After a while, they get the idea, and I can’t keep up with the writing.

What is fascinating are the number of values that they don’t call out. Therefore, I point some out to them because a value like work is important to them but they rarely bring it up as a value. Considering they all work I find this interesting. Money is usually one of the first to come out but people are hesitant to own sex, drugs, or alcohol as a value. Yet, these are often at the forefront of many people’s minds.

In the beginning, most struggle to come up with five values, let alone ten, which is the first step in the process of people learning their values.

When they have ten values, they then go through a process, until they arrive at a new list of values. I am always amazed at how many are surprised at how different the new list is from their original listing.

I suspect, most will forget all about this exercise and continue life as they did before the workshop. The participants will fail to remember the importance of values.

Now let’s look into values and explore why there are so important.

What Drives You?

When you don’t know what’s meaningful to you, then what drives your actions and decisions?

Your values do subconsciously, but your emotions also play a part.

How often have you regretted something you did in the past? At the time, maybe you made an emotional decision instead of a rational one based on your values.

Have you had arguments only to suddenly realise what you were fighting about was not critical for you? Again, the emotion took over, and your values didn’t consciously play a part.

It’s likely a value did come into play, but subconsciously. You reacted because someone said something that offended one of your core beliefs.

Bottom line, you are driven by your values which are influenced by your beliefs, and your emotions are always in play.


Organisation Values

Knowing your values is essential when you choose where you want to work.

Organisations usually have a set which you can find on their websites.

It’s important to check your values against the company’s values. If yours and their values are out of alignment than working for that company may not be wise. It makes sense to test out their values by talking to some people who work there.

The values of some organisations can be all-encompassing or straightforward.

I often ask people about their company values. The responses are varied, but and most don’t know them. People who do know, often say they ignore them. They also say the company doesn’t adhere to them either.

There are plenty of websites that offer a free assessment test. Lots are no cost and provide you with a list of your values based on answers to their questions.

Many organisations include assessments tests in their interview process. It can impact their decision on your selection.

Note: Some forward-thinking companies get their teams to do assessment tests. The results can dictate the values they want a recruit to have.

When your values are not compatible with a company’s values, or a team, there is the possibility it may not be a good fit for you.

If a company doesn’t adhere to their values, then you could end up in an uncomfortable situation which many people have done in the past.

Looking for a Job – Check the Company Values

If you are going to be interviewed for a job, then find out what the company’s values are before you attend. Most companies publish them on the web. If you can’t find them, then you’ll have to look for other ways to find out. At the least ask them what theirs are at your interview. The response will tell you a lot about the company.

Being Aware of Your Values

Consciously being aware of your values is imperative because they drive every choice you make. You need to know what they are.

A small difference between people can cause an argument. For example, the top of your values list may be security, followed by family. Your spouse may have family first followed by security. If you and your partner don’t know this, then you could end up in an argument without understanding the problem.

In a relationship, it makes a big difference when you both know your values. When you join a company, it’s still a relationship and essential to know each other’s.

Now you can have quality communication with each other because you appreciate each other’s values. When you don’t have this knowledge, then each side tries to force theirs on the other.

People are often not aware of why they decided something or took action. When they sit back and consider the outcome, they may realise it wasn’t what they wanted. Ignoring this can come back to bite you later when breakdowns occur, and neither side recognises that the earlier decision caused the current situation.

Learn what is Important to You

One thing you could do right now is search Google with: – ‘What are my values?’ There are over 500 million results. Choose a few of the exercises that help you find yours. Compare all the results to identify those that seem to fit you and work out the priority sequence of those important to you. Then every time you have a choice to make or action to take, check your answer against yours.

Here are a couple of tests that won’t take long. There are lots more on the internet, and many are free. Personally, I never leave my email address, and several don’t ask for it.

A quick and self-assessment test by Personal Values

Quick test, fascinating and different by Mindcoolness

I like this by the Barratt Values Centre

The Importance of Values of a Person and of an Organisation

Does your organisation test the compatibility of their values with their people? When employing new people, does the organisation compare their values with the interviewees? Many organisations have issues directly related to their employees’, but yet don’t realise this. When you understand everyone’s values, you’ll learn more about how to communicate with them and motivate them in the best way for them and you.

Company owners often ask if financial bonuses help improve performance. Sometimes it will and other times it won’t. First, you must know what drives each person and understand their values. When you meet people’s needs based on their values, they generally perform better.

People’s everyday needs include a happy environment, interesting work, caring employers, and reasonable financial compensation. It’s up to the organisation to understand which most valuable for each person. When this is achieved, dealing with their staff is a lot easier. Although it can take longer at the beginning, it will save a lot of time and money in the long term. Remember that people are human, and outside circumstances can impact an employee. How you handle this will affect everybody in an organisation, not just the employee who has a specific situation to resolve.


The values of a person are vital to them, even when they are not aware of them. Whether you’re an organisation, group, team or an individual, find out what their’s are. Once you know and understand what they are, you can make more confident choices and, ironically, people learn to accept your position more readily.

Your values are what drive you, and so it makes sense to know what is crucial to you.

More Information

Links to other articles about values:


Barratt Centre


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