Thursday, March 1, 2012


How one determines or considers their personal value or worth is directly connected with how they interact with their environment, whether it be personal or professional.

I went to lunch with a couple friends who do similar jobs within an organization. Both departments and roles affect the other so they are familiar with each other’s’ jobs. As they heatedly exchanged words about their perceived value I sat back in my seat seeing a bigger picture than they realized they were painting. Maybe it’s just because I’m so analytical or a big picture type person, but the theme I saw developing in this discussion was one of value and how an individual perceives his or her own value. Both sides saw themselves as more valuable than the next and the argument continued to go in circles because each was only putting out arguments attempting to prove their superior value. As I so often do, I stepped in as a mediator and gave my best objective view of both sides, trying to explain to each how the other felt while also acknowledging their opinion and point of view. I provided both with confirmation of their values and tried my best to help each other appreciate the other’s value. The lunch was intense but ended with laughs and hopefully a little understanding.

I often times find myself just watching others and paying special attention to how they treat each other. In my professional experience at a fortune 100 company I’ve been discouraged to see unkindness and impatience. The larger a group of people gets the tougher communication becomes. This is because the differences between so many people becomes exponentially larger than they truly are. When this happens people stop thinking of each other and turn their focus inward. This inward focus creates a natural desire to prove one’s worth or value to others because they don’t feel valued. If others won’t value them they go on a mission to prove their worth.

A brilliant quote from a surprising source:

“You are never as good as you think you are and you are never as bad as you think you are.”
-Mike Tyson

One side of this quote is from an individual perspective; don’t whole heartedly accept your own perceived value. You are your worst critic but can also be your biggest fan. Both extremes are equally unhealthy.

I am a hopeful romantic of sorts I suppose. I am hopeful in people. I view the majority of people as well intentioned citizens looking to discover or confirm their own value. I don’t think when Bob snaps at Mary in a meeting he is intentionally, in that moment, consciously intending to hurt Mary’s feelings by having a rude tone. Mary of course only feels devalued and takes immediate offense. Things could and often do get out of control and quickly. It’s important in moments of conflict to consider 2 things. 1, remember that people don’t intentionally hurt each other (unless there is a mental illness or a behavioral problem), give everyone the benefit of the doubt and 2, consider confronting the person who offended you. How you confront someone can make all the difference. I am in no way promoting “going off” on someone because you were offended. In the heat of the moment at the height of your emotional reaction is not the appropriate time to consider confrontation. After you have cooled down and really processed the offense, calmly approach the offender and only talk about how you feel. Tell them how they made you feel only, do not prescribe anything to them about themselves, but rather focus on telling them how you feel, talk about yourself. How the offender responds is 100% their responsibility. You have no control on how they will respond, but as long as you were professional in your confrontation then you are in the clear and should not carry the burden any longer.

Resolving the conflict of perceived value is important to success, both personally and professionally. Considering others as valuable in unique ways, different than your frame work for value is important to respecting others. Without respect we cannot value others and if we fail to value others we will receive equal reciprocation, meaning others won’t value us. If we don’t feel valued by others we will fall into the ugly downward spiral of trying to prove our value at the expense of others. Don’t try to prove your value to others by devaluing them. Look for value in others, when you do that it will be reciprocated appropriatley thus ending the ugly cycle of individuals seeking to prove their value to the world. Do you value others? Do you value yourself too much? Do you value yourself too little? By considering the theme of personal worth or value we can change the trajectory of what can sometimes be a rocky environment. We can improve the professional and personal world by doing so.

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