If the primary value in a relationship is love, you might ask, what makes you feel loved? Or what causes you to love some one? Or how do you know when you are not loved? You should do this with as much precision as possible for at least the first four items on your hierarchy. The single word love probably means dozens of things to you, and it’s worthwhile to discover what they are. This is not an easy process, but if you do it carefully, you will know more about your self, what you truly desire, and what evidence you use to know whether your desires are being fulfilled.
Of course, you can not go through life doing full scale value elicitations for everyone you know. How precise and specific you want to be will depend entirely on your outcome. If it is to have a relationship that will last forever with a spouse or a child, you’ll want to know every thing you possibly can about how that person’s brain works. If you are a coach trying to motivate a player or a businessman trying to evaluate a possible client, you still would want to know the person’s values, but not nearly in as much depth. You are just looking for the big, overriding chunks. Remember, in any relationship – whether it’s as intense as it is between a father and son or as casual as it is between two sales people sharing the same phone – you have a contract, whether you verbalize it or not. You both expect certain things from each other. You both judge each other’s actions and words, at least unconsciously, by your values. You might as well get clear on what those values are and create agreement so that you know in advance how your behaviors will affect you both and what your true needs are:
You can elicit these over riding values in casual conversation. One simple but invaluable technique is to listen carefully to the words people use. People tend to use over and over key words that denote the values at the top of their hierarchy. Two people may share an ecstatic experience together. One may rave about it, saying how much it got his creativity going. Another may be just as enthused, and say how intense the shared feelings of community were. Chances are they’re giving you strong clues about their highest values and about what you should understand if you want to motivate or excite them.
Value elicitations are important in both business and personal life. There’s an ultimate value everyone looks for in work. It will make a person take a job, and if not fulfilled or if violated it will make him leave it. For some people, it may be money. If you pay them enough, you will keep them. But for many others, it is something else. It might be creativity or challenge or a sense of family.
It’s crucial for managers to know the supreme value of their employees. To elicit it, the firs thing to ask is, what would it take to cause you to join an organization? Let’s say the employee answers, ‘A creative environment’. You develop a list of what is important about that by asking, what else would it take? Then you would want to know, even if all those existed, what would cause him to leave. Suppose the answer is, ‘A lack of trust’. You would keep on probing from there: Even if there were a lack of trust, what would make you stay? Some people might say that they would never in an organization with a lack of trust. If so, that’s their ultimate value – the thing they must have to stay at a job. Some one else might say he would stay, even if there was no trust, if he had a chance to rise thro-ugh the organization. Keep probing and questioning until you’ve found the things the person has to move to stay happy, and then you’ll know in advance what would make him leave. The value words people use are like super anchors – they have strong emotional associations. To be even more effective, be clear: How would you know when you have that? How do you know when you don’t have that?
Also, it’s critically important to note a person’s evidence procedure to determine how your concept of trust differs from his. He may believe there is trust only if he’s never questioned in his decisions. He may believe there is a lack of trust if his job responsibility is changed without a clear explanation to him. It is invaluable for a manager to understand these values and be able to anticipate in advance when dealing with the people in any given situation.