Aug 052022
Two sisters sit on a park bench having an argument. Could a different perspective improve their understanding of one another?
CFSC (Quakers) peace work

You know who you are and what you stand for. And sometimes that’s just miles away from what your partner, co-workers, or family members stand for or care about. Or is it? One simple tool will help you find out. And this knowledge might surprise you.

Let’s say that you’re a proud individualist. What you like more than anything is the freedom to make your own choices. You frequently have strong disagreements with your sister who doesn’t care about choices and does what she’s told by her boss, doctors, your parents… This different orientation to life seems destined to lead you to continued bitter conflicts. But rather than focus on the difference, what if you tried thinking about how you actually share values.

 Common Cause Foundation, “Common Cause Communication,” 2015, 122.
Common Cause Foundation, “Common Cause Communication,” 2015, 122.

The social psychologist Shalom Schwartz developed this theory of 10 basic human values. People in the many countries where it’s been studied seem to hold these values. That’s already intriguing. More incredible still is the fact that you likely have most or all of these values in common with folks you seem very different from.

This realization is massive when you’re in a difficult conversation and just can’t get where the other person is coming from. Maybe you could understand if you considered other values…. Keep reading this article written for Psychology Today.