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How To Know What Drives You And What Your Values Really Are

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

If you have ever worked in selling you will likely know about hot buttons. They are the values or emotions which drive our behaviours. Although some people like to think of themselves as rational human beings the reality is that all of us are emotionally driven - by our values. Knowing your values, and their relative importance, is a key to a happy and a healthy life.

What is a 'Value'?

A value is a 'hot button' that drives behaviour. Whatever you do is done in order to fulfil a value - even though you are unlikely to be consciously aware of that value. You swim to fulfil the value of improving your health, benefiting from the relaxed state it later produces, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sea, etc. You drink alcohol to fulfil the value of feeling less inhibited, to enjoy the social scene involved, to enjoy the taste of the drink, etc.

You buy fashionable new clothes to fulfil the value of looking good, looking right for work, or not looking dowdy, etc. Your clients, colleagues and staff will all be running values unconsciously and these will be shaping their relationships, behaviours, decision making and outcomes. As a person of influence coaching and communicating around these values will allow both parties to gain new insights and stimulate winning results.

We can have moving towards values which, when satisfied, bring us pleasure and moving away from values which attempt to keep us from feeling pain. Here are some examples of AWAY and TOWARDS value

AWAY FROM: Not failing TOWARDS: Being successful

AWAY FROM: Ill health TOWARDS: Good health

AWAY FROM: Too much change TOWARDS: Certainty & Security

AWAY FROM:Not feeling trapped TOWARDS: Freedom of choice

When we are operating out of our highest values we experience congruence and a sense of satisfaction. We like people who share our values and often have strong reactions to people who don’t.

When we experience conflicting values it creates a dilemma and incongruence. Values can conflict at the same time (ie. simultaneously “should I do this or should I do that”) or over time (ie. sequentially “I know I really shouldn’t have done it but ...”). Arguments and disagreements are almost always associated with people having conflicting values.

While our values are usually out of our awareness we constantly express them through our language and indicating which are the most important through our behaviour. The simplest way to discover someone's values is to ask:

What is important to you about [topic]?

What do you want in/out of [topic]?

What would having [topic] do for you?

Takeaway Workout: Values Elicitation

Time: Approx. 30 mins.


The following exercise will allow you to explore your values or ‘drivers’ and help you to then link these to how and why you run your actions and behaviour as you do. It is also an excellent exercise to use with other team members or colleagues as it will generate understanding and collaboration.


I've created a list of 300 values that may help you determine your top five values. Underline the values that stand out to you and then reduce the list through a process of prioritisation till you are left with five core values.

Next – simply explore how you behave in order to fulfill these values. Look at both potential constructive and destructive actions.

Now, how have these values supported your growth and if they have perhaps held you back? Perhaps it is time to revisit how you either a) view the value itself or b) select a more supportive set of values without compromising who you are.

You can download the list for free from my Slideshare HERE

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