While many of our holiday plans look different this year, our desire to connect with others remains the same. However, despite our best intentions, connecting can sometimes be difficult. We have that sibling we just don’t understand, the child going through new changes, or the partner who doesn’t fully understand what motivates us.
The truth is, we often have trouble understanding one another because we don’t understand other people’s, or our own, core values. Core values are the set of values that help guide our choices in life. The set of principles and ideals we are willing to put ourselves on the line for. Whether or not you’ve ever taken the time to sit and map out what yours are – you have them. So does everyone else.
It’s important to take some time to figure out what your core values are, what your loved ones are, and how to use that knowledge to better understand one another. It may help you connect in ways that previously seemed out of reach.
Understanding Core Values
Core values are the set of values that underpin our choices. Core values, and doing things that align with those core values, help us feel as though we’re being productive and living more meaningful lives. They play a huge role in our emotional well-being, which in turn effects how we interact with those around us.
But how do we figure out our core values? And how does that help us relate to others?
We recommend you start with the seven circles. (Though if you’d like to go more in depth, there’s always the Core Value Deck to help you figure things out.)
Go through and rank each of the seven according to their level of importance for you: Spiritual, Physical Health, Personal Life, Relationships, Job, Business, and Finances.
Maybe you feel like your key relationships and your physical health are the most important– some of your core values probably hinge around family and a healthy, long life. Or maybe you have bigger concerns with finance and your spiritual life. That could mean your values revolve around faith and giving. Whatever the case, take some time to rank and write things out.
Now, examine some of the choices you make each day. Do the actions you take reflect those values? If not, maybe you aren’t setting goals that respect those values, or maybe you need to reassess what your values are.
Once you figure out what your values are, you can begin to unlock certain aspects of your life – unhappiness at work, or feeling happiest at home with your family – and use that to better align what you do with the things that matter most. And, when it comes to better understanding others, knowing who we are and who they are, helps us communicate with one another more effectively.
Cathryn Lavery and Emily Coleman: A Case Study
For the newly engaged Cathryn Lavery and Emily Coleman, understanding one another’s core values took their relationship to another level. The two met in New York on Tinder and quickly realized they’d met The One. But even though they were crazy about one another, they still had some major differences.
Cathryn, co-founder of Best Self Co., had always been incredibly driven and goal oriented. After all, it’s hard to not be when you helped create an entire company dedicated to productivity. For her, planning around goals and making things happen was second nature. But for Emily, even though she had always been always a go-getter, carefully making plans was a more nebulous affair. It wasn’t until the couple went to the Goal Setting Retreat in 2019 that they really sat down and homed in on what made on each other tick.
“I had done the core values workshop, but I had never done it with a partner,” Cathryn notes. And when she heard about the goal setting retreat, she was eager to try it out with Emily and see how they squared up.
The results were life changing. It forced the two of them to consider what they wanted for their future, to discuss things they had felt too vulnerable to discuss and map out the life they wanted to share together.
And figuring out their core values –curiosity, impact, integrity for Cathryn and love, impact, and authenticity for Emily – allowed them to understand one another more than every before.
“Knowing each other’s values, and also seeing how we show that in everyday life, has made us more understanding of each other. And more empathetic as to where the other person is coming from,” Cathryn notes.
Emily agreed. “I started to realize ‘oh maybe this is bothering Cat because it’s affecting one of her core values – integrity.’ So, something that may not bother me, may bother Cat to the core. So, when she sees that in her work, she takes action very quickly. And I don’t recognize it right away. So, it’s really helped me understand Cat more as a partner.”
Following the retreat, they felt more connected and better able to communicate with one another. It helped them create a framework for understanding where the other person was coming from, how to help them handle challenges, and check in with one another.
They knew what motivated certain reactions – a breach of a core value, for example. Or that the other person might want to simply vent as opposed to needing a solution. That something that might seem like a small issue to one, would actually be a much larger issue for another. In essence, understanding themselves better gave them a roadmap for deeper understanding and better communication.
As you move to unlock your own core values and communicate about them with others, keep in mind that what you uncover may surprise you. But, it will bring you closer and allow you to understand each other in the end.
What are some of your values and how has understanding them impacted your goals or relationships? Let us know on our Facebook page! And if you’d like to hear more of Cathryn and Emily’s story, check out our podcast!