Values and Conflict: The Case of the Bigger Cookie
Everytime you experience a conflict, it is a direct result of an important value being frustrated. I can be frustrated by a situation, a person, or by you. But there is no doubt about it: conflict = frustrated value. Every. Single. Time.
The simplest example of this is to imagine that you are a toddler and your sibling is given a bigger cookie than you. Feel the burn of injustice race through your veins before you scream, “NOOOO FAIR!” FAIRNESS is the frustrated value, which is a value that most people hold as a top value to some degree.
As you grow up from childhood, your life experiences become more complex. Relationships become more complex. However, it remains that the value of FAIRNESS (for example) remains an important value for you.
Values Based Living or VBL teaches you how to recognize how your thoughts, feelings and actions are connected to your top values being satisfied and frustrated over and over for your whole life.
VBL teaches the language of values as a way to frame a neutral topic for discussion. We teach how you can use assertive sentences for your experiences that are anchored by values.
You will say, “Because FAIRNESS is important to me, I am upset that the cookie distribution doesn’t feel FAIR. I would like to see if there is a more FAIR way to split the cookie between us. Could we do that together?”
Even if the answer is no and you still end up with the tiny little cookie, what you have “won” is a lot of interesting information:
- The fact that FAIRNESS is a key value for you
- What the frustrated value of FAIRNESS feels like for you
- Experience in framing an assertive conversation around FAIRNESS
- Interesting information about that other person and their value of FAIRNESS
You also have learned that you need to develop internal standards for how you treat yourself and others around the value of FAIRNESS. If you don’t, your behaviour will frustrate your value of FAIRNESS (see Values Based Assertiveness).
Further, you can now do some self inquiry for where this value of FAIRNESS is coming up as satisfied and frustrated in life areas.
That all stemmed from an emotional reaction to a bigger cookie. Imagine what else you can learn about what motivates you as you create a values based life.