Following up on the past two days’ posts on values, let’s look at understanding other people’s values. I don’t think I need to explain the value of understanding others’ values in developing a relationship with them, especially if you want them to like you to for you to influence them. I need only point out at that since you almost certainly wish more people understood you better, they feel the same way — be they coworkers, colleagues, friends, family, etc.
When you identify values as based in emotion, you realize understanding other people’s values means more or less empathizing with them. Most people wish others understood them better. I think a lot of people wish they understood others better.
If you want to lead others, you’ll probably realize the importance of understanding their values. So how do you learn their values? I suggest the starting point is understanding your values. As I wrote yesterday, that means understanding your emotional system in general and what things evoke what emotions in you in particular. Learning to manage your emotions helps too. Those posts help there.
Without understanding your emotions you’ll have a hard time understanding those of others. Likewise, developing your ability to read and understand your emotions will help you read and understand others’ too.
You can read and understand your emotions better, though you can also fool yourself more easily. Your emotions you have the advantage of being able to feel, which you can’t with others’. With others’ you have to resort to asking them how they feel and, more effectively, observing their behavior and non-verbal communication.
Asking them how they feel, while better than nothing, doesn’t help as much because their answer will combine how they feel with how they want you to think they feel since in all communication people try to influence each other.
Observing their behavior and non-verbal communication helps more because emotions motivate behavior. Seeing their behavior shows the motivation that created it.
The formality of a workplace may hide a person’s behavior and non-verbal communication behind the rules of formality. That’s why breaking down that formality helps — things like speaking more casually in the workplace, finding ways to meet outside the workplace, and having a drink together.
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