The value of values


Translating the theory of values into practice

My work in conflict resolution or conflict disruption often takes me to organisations or situations where I work with clients:

  • dealing with conflict;
  • reflecting on how we interact and deal with colleagues;
  • the language of conflict and conflict resolution; or
  • reviewing conflict resolution skills and approaches.

During workshops, meetings and discussions, the matter of values is often raised. 

Organisational and personal values

Most organisations have a set of company values, often displayed on walls and workspaces. These are the theoretical constructs that are expected to guide employee behaviour. The organisation’s values will be a reflection of the workplace culture, assisting employees to determine the behaviour expected of them.  

Individuals also have personal values.  These have been taught to us by our parents, relatives, friends, teachers and colleagues. They are further developed through our cultural background, family history, education etc.

I often ask clients to consider how values can be demonstrated in our engagement and interactions with others.  

Within organisations, the values do not always roll off the tongue as one might expect them to. But individuals are clear on what their personal values are. My most challenging question of clients is “How do you live and model the values that you cherish and expect of yourself and others?” 

How do individuals translate the theory of great values into modelled behaviour?

Last year I completed a course in Conflict Coaching. I did this for my own professional and personal development and to add complementary skills to my toolbox when working with individuals and businesses who are dealing with conflict.

At the beginning of the course, we were asked to reflect on our own experience with a coach and how that coach made us feel and what we learned from the experience.

My reflection took me back to my experience with a wonderful lady who was more of a mentor but who probably also served me as a “life coach”. 

This lady was an island of serenity in a sea of chaos. She seemed to be surrounded by an aura of calmness and care. It was impossible to have a conversation with her when you were angry, frustrated, anxious or sad, and continue to feel that way during or at the end of the conversation. 

I would enter her office raging with emotion and by the end of the session, I would leave feeling calmer and with a changed perspective on options for moving on or dealing with whatever had made me emotional in the first place.  She also dispensed liberal doses of medication; the inimitable cup of tea.  It seemed that tea was the antidote to all that could ever ail a person.

My life coach exuded exceptional personal values

Most intriguing was that this amazing person, in the form of a quiet smiling 5ft something of a person, lived and breathed so many treasured values and emotional intelligence qualities that people talk about today. 

  1. She had exceptional listening skills.
  2. She was patient while being told a story.
  3. She never judged but rather, she invited you to consider alternative perspectives and then gently led you to work out what you could do differently or how you could re-evaluate the issue.
  4. She provided a “safe space” for anyone in need, long before the concept was articulated.

She raised two wonderful daughters and influenced the lives of many who crossed her threshold. I was fortunate enough to be embraced as a friend and became part of her extended family, remaining in contact despite my move to another country.


Last week my dear friend and mentor left us.

Reflecting on the incredible impact she made on my life I have to concede that she was and always will be, my Jiminy Cricket; sitting quietly on my shoulder reminding me to live and demonstrate the values I hold dear and to continue using my skills to help others where I can do so.

What do you value in personal and professional interactions?  How do you demonstrate what you value to others?

We should always work on how we translate the theory of values into daily life; whether that be at home, at work or wherever we interact with others. 

Contact Blackforrest Consulting for further information.

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