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How to clarify your values (4): ways of resolving values conflicts

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This is another slightly edited extract from my book Work/Life: Achieve Your Goals (Dorling Kindersley 2006). It follows on from posts on how to clarify your values, establish your values hierarchy, and check for values clashes.

If you discovered that two of your values conflict, here are some methods for finding a resolution.

  • Change things so you can have both: what is it about your current situation that means you can’t satisfy both values at the same time? Ask yourself what would have to happen to make it possible to satisfy both values at the same time. Then make it happen.

Case study: Doing a good job and quality time with his family are both important to Greg, but he found that staying later and later at work was eating into his family time. This left him feeling resentful while at work and made it harder for him to give of his best. Solution: Greg looked at how he was managing his time and made some efficiency savings, enabling him to get away from work early enough to see his children. Because he was feeling more motivated, the quality of his work went up, so he was able to satisfy both values.

  • Look for the common higher value in both: take one of the clashing values and ask yourself: “If I have that value fully, what would that give me that is even more important than that?” This should give you a higher value. Continue to ask the same question until you can’t get any higher. Then do the same thing with the other value.  You may find that the two original values have higher values which are the same, or at least more compatible.

Try this out: You can use imagery to help the conflicting values negotiate.

  1. Hold your hands out in front of you. Imagine you have one of the values sitting or standing on the palm of your hand. If you could see it, what would it look like? You may get an image that symbolises the value to you, or a sense of its weight in your hand, or what its voice would sound like. Do the same with the other value, in the other hand.
  2. Thank each “value” for being prepared to communicate with you, and ask one of them what it is trying to do for you and what is really important to it. Listen for the answer that comes, or imagine an answer that feels right. Continue to ask: “What does that give you that is even more important than that?” until you get to what is most important.
  3. Repeat the process with the other “value”.
  4. Ask the two “values” if they realise that they are both part of you, and they both want the best for you.
  5. Ask them to open a channel of communication with each other, between your two hands, for each to tell the other what it most needs to know.
  6. Imagine what the two would look like if they worked together to achieve what is most important to you. You may feel that the hands want to move together – if they do, let them.
  7. When the “values” have got as close as they are going to for now, let your hands relax as you take the “values” back into yourself. Give yourself some time, and ways of fulfilling both values may come to you.

Note: in NLP this is known as the ‘Parts Integration’ or (for some reason) ‘visual squash’ process. I should point out it’s much easier to have someone else who knows what they are doing guide you through it, but you may be able to do it yourself.

I’ve seen this process taught many different ways. Some teachers, particularly those who don’t specialise in hypnosis, just go for the two parts asking each other what they want and working out some kind of compromise. I would much rather go for full integration, so you end up with more of what they both really wanted, rather than each ‘part’ continuing to co-exist and each having to give something up, so neither one is completely happy and there’s a possibility of further conflict in the future.

Other variants, if the version above doesn’t work:

  • Set two chairs out. Sit in one and get yourself into the mindset of one of the ‘parts’. Get up to what’s most important to you as above. Then sit in the other chair, get into the mindset of the ‘opposing part’, and again get to what’s most important to you. With any luck the two values will be the same, or at least closer to each other. Since there are different ways to fulfil any given value, how each part vary its behaviour to accommodate or work in harmony with the other? Move back and forth between the chairs until you get to an agreement.
  • Do the same exercise but on paper (but try the chairs thing first!)

As I said, it’s much easier when you have someone good guiding you through it. And don’t try it by yourself for ‘heavy’ issues like bulimia or anything that’s causing you real ongoing distress – only for easy stuff like dilemmas. Instead, get some help from someone who knows what they are doing.

If you’re already an NLP Practitioner and you’re thinking, “Yeah, I already know how to do this” then congratulations – because it seems not everyone comes out of every NLP Practitioner course able to use these interventions competently and confidently.

What would you say to getting an unfair advantage in achieving your goals?

This ‘dual ­induction’ hypnotic audio by the author of the acclaimed book Achieve Your Goals: Strategies To Transform Your Life (Dorling Kindersley 2006) is designed to help you decide what you want, install your goals into your future, and stay focused on your goals once you have set them.

Over a background of unobtrusive ambient music, my voice delivers separate positive suggestions to reach both hemispheres of your brain. You can consciously listen to one or the other, but not both at the same time!`

So while your conscious mind just gives up and relaxes, your unconscious mind takes on board the empowering suggestions.

Listen to a sample, or download the audio straight away here

© 2012 – 2021, Andy Smith. All rights reserved.

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