How to handle value conflicts that can affect your career

Jan 6, 2021 | Work Culture

I’ve learnt the hard way how fundamental values are.

When people say they’re unhappy in they’re relationship or job and want to change it, it’s perhaps due to values conflict.

These days I make sure to be explicit with my values.

The personal example I’ll share relates to a web developer I once hired when I was 19 from a freelancer website.

I created him as a user on my WordPress account. After 2 weeks, I discovered he had blocked my access to my own account. He said he would unblock me after I paid him. I complied and paid after he sent me screenshots. When I accessed the account, he hadn’t completed the work to the standard we agreed and there was none-to-little functionality. He became unresponsive when I tried to reach him about this. I lost £ 400 but I learnt the value of transparency, fairness and always giving your best. You can’t always see conflict in values in advance. You can do your part to develop your own list of values. If you don’t know what your own values are, you might be controlled by the values around you.

I’ve also come to learn that value conflicts can be broken down into:

  1. Solvable problems
    • That we attempted to solve
    • That we didn’t attempt to solve
  2. Unsolvable problemsIn my own life, I’ve been in circumstances were a problem has occurred, but I didn’t attempt to solve it (1b), mostly because I didn’t KNOW how. Unsolvable problems occur when there is no “happy” compromise and you attempt to change a person’s values or goals. Eventually, resentment breeds so you end the relationship or leave the company if you’re an employee.

My 3 lessons in all of this are:

  1. know your values
    Think about how you’ve prioritised in the past and made trade-off decisions.
  2. Try to know the other person’s or company’s values How does the other person or company behave under stress/conflict?
  3. Decide on mutually agreed upon shared values. Discuss the values differences explicitly. Confirm your understanding of the other person’s values. The underlying theme is communication. Without honest communication, it’s difficult to establish mutually shared goals.