Values influence how we behave
Actions speak louder than words. Yes and no. Although we do communicate much information through our behaviors, our actions are a physical representation of our values. Our value system determines how we go about fulfilling our needs. Before looking at the values being expressed in the picture, let’s first see what needs are being met.
Power: The young men feel worthwhile to self in their ability to perform a handstand. Others are most likely watching so they are also contributing to the well-being of the group through physical feats and entertainment.
Belonging: At least one other person is watching (the photographer) and quite possibly others too. Maybe they are part of a group of friends hanging out at the beach. Similar to power, belonging is a basic need that encourages us to behave for the sake of being part of a group.
Freedom: To be oneself and act freely and responsibly—behaving in a way that does not deprive others of their ability to fulfill their needs.
Fun: Looks like they are enjoying themselves. Who doesn’t want to have fun!
What values are being expressed as the two young men satisfy these basic needs?
Achievement, athleticism, challenge, competition, cooperation, confidence, determination, enthusiasm, fitness, mastery, perseverance, recognition, self-control, self expression, and strength to name a few.
There is more going on than two young men performing a handstand. What you are really seeing are these values in action. How is this insight helpful?
Understanding the values being expressed by your teenager, partner, coworker, neighbor, or stranger will help you better understand how they go about fulfilling their needs. Understanding needs and values helps depersonalize one’s behaviors. This is useful when dealing with others whose behaviors you do not understand or disagree with.
Looking at someone’s values helps you see that they are trying to satisfy a need for themselves and not do something against you. This helps you become accountable with your response when you feel mistreated by someone’s actions. No matter what someone does “to you”, you always have a choice in how to respond. What needs and values are being challenged? What values are driving your behaviors?
If you find yourself in repeated conflict situations or see unhealthy patterns in your encounter with others, it may be time to have a look at your values. The good news is there are many to choose from. Like clothes, values can be changed at any time if they no longer fit.
About the author
Jean-Pierre Kallanian is a Process Facilitator and Human Systems Expert. He accompanies organizations in fully integrating their human resource potential by facilitating group processes that foster authenticity, intention, and collective wisdom. He is also the author of What You Can Learn from Your Teenager: Lessons in Parenting and Personal Growth.