If mutual communication is valued more than ecstasy, you would then continue by asking what is more important, mutual communication or respect? If it is still mutual communication, then ask Mutual Communication or fun? If no value is deemed more important than mutual communication, it’s second in the hierarchy. If another value is deemed more important, you would compare the remaining values with it until you complete the list.
For example, if you compared mutual communication to all the words in this example and came to the last value on the list, honesty, and it turned out to be more important than mutual communication, then you don’t have to compare it to creativity since creativity is not as important as mutual communication. Thus, we know that since honesty is more important than mutual communication, it will also be higher than creativity or any other word on the list already below mutual communication. To complete the hierarchy, repeat this process all the way through the list.
As you’ll see, ranking is not always an easy process. Some of these are very fine distinctions that we’re not used to making. If a decision isn’t clear, make the distinctions more specific. You might ask which is more important, ecstasy or growth? A person may respond, ‘well if I’m growing, I have ecstasy’. Then you need to ask, what does ecstasy mean to you? What does growth mean to you? If the answer is, Ecstasy means feeling a total sense of personal joy, and growth means overcoming obstacles, then you can ask, which is more important overcoming obstacles or feeling a total sense of joy? This will make the decision easier.
If the distinctions are still not clear, ask what would happen if you took away one value. If you could never be ecstatic but you could grow, would that be your choice, or if you could never grow but you could be ecstatic, which one would you want more? This will usually provide the information needed to distinguish which value is more important.
Putting together one of your own value hierarchies is one of the most valuable exercises you can do in this article. Take the time now to decide what you desire from a relationship. You should do the same thing with your partner if you’re in a relationship needs. Make a list of all the things that are most important to you in a relationship – for example, attraction, joy, excitement, and respect. To expand this list, you might ask, what is important about respect? And your partner might say, That’s the most important in a relationship. So you already have the number one value. Or your partner may say, ‘when I feel respected, I feel unified with another person. So you have another word unity. You might ask, what’s important about unity? And your partner may say, ‘If I feel unity with another person, I feel loved by him’. You might then ask, what’s important about love? Continue in this way to develop a list of words until you are satisfied that you have most of the major values that are important to you in a relationship. Now, create a hierarchy of importance by using the technique described above. Systematically compare each of the value until have a clear hierarchy that feels right to you.
After you have created a hierarchy of values for your personal relationships, do the same thing with your work environment. Create the context of work and ask, what’s important to be about working? You might say creativity. The next obvious question would be, what’s important about creativity? You may answer, ‘when I’m creative I feel like I’m growing’. What’s important about growing? Continue from there. If you’re a parent, you do the same thing with your children. By finding out the things that truly motivate them, you will come up with unique effective tools for more effective parenting.
What have you discovered? How do you feel about the list you have created. Is it accurate in your estimation? If not, make additional comparisons until it feels right. Many people are surprised to discover their highest values. However, by becoming consciously aware of their value hierarchy, they do come to understand why they do what they do. In personal relationships, or at work, now that you know what your values are, you can express what’s most important to you, and by knowing that, you can begin to direct your energies to achieve it.
Putting a hierarchy together is not enough. As we’ll see later, people mean very different things by the same word when talking about values. Now that you’ve become conscious of your hierarchy, take the time to ask what it means. —