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It's All About The Rules

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 20-03-2014

Have you ever wondered how you can have exactly the same values as someone else, but yet you still come into conflict? ... It's all about the rules!

The rules that we apply to our values to make them 'live' is often what causes conflict in any relationship either professional or personal.  Quite often we can have exactly the same values as another. However, our rules on how to carry out that value can be completely different, which is where the problems start.

I have a client who came to me because he just wasn’t getting along with his wife and it was causing problems at home and consequently he was talking his problems into work with him. When I started to ask about his values, he said that growing up ‘respect’ was a number one value in his household and to be respectful of others you would never raise your voice or argue, if you felt disagreed with someone, instead of getting outwardly angry you would just walk away. They were the ‘rules’ within his family when he was growing up.

When I asked about how his wife feels about 'respect' as a value, he said that she also saw it as one of her highest values and so he just couldn’t understand why they had so much conflict. I asked him what happens when they disagree and he said, “She just wants to stand and argue about it until we sort it” I pointed out to him that they both have the same value, i.e., respect, however, their rules around that value were different. I suggested that he and his wife review the rules they have around their values and design new ones that they both felt were appropriate.

At the next session, he said the transformation was amazing. He no longer felt like he was treading on egg shells and the relationship with his wife was going from strength to strength. As a result, he was feeling much calmer and in control in work too and when he came into conflict with someone, he would figure out their ‘rules’ and was much more able to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Once we can start to see that we have different rules, we can understand that people aren't 'out to get us' but they have different rules to us.  Let’s face it, none of our rules are right; they are just a jumble of thoughts, processes, and programming that we’ve picked up along the way from our parents, teachers, peers, etc. which we adjust as we go through life

If you find yourself in conflict with someone, check their values – if they values are the same as yours and you’re still in conflict, it’s likely to be a ‘rules’ issue. Work together and agree on a new set of rules and see what a difference that makes to your relationships, you may uncover some interesting things about yourself and others along the way!

If you’re having any issues establishing what your values are or how to change your rules, please contact us for a free, no obligation conversation on how we can help you.