India 2008As I write this blog the United States is celebrating Independence Day, July 4th. I look around my neighborhood and see flags on front porches, barbeque grills firing up, and people preparing for a day at the pool with family.

When I think about this day’s origins, however, I cannot help think about my global team clients. You see, independence is a very common shared value in the U.S., transcending even regional differences to some degree.

If a single woman in her 30s was dating a man in his 40s and she found out he still lived with his mother (and not playing the role of a caregiver) she would likely feel suspicious. What’s more, she might not even know why that bothered her. All she knows is that the man’s living situation says something negative about him.

In other cultures, you would find the exact opposite. Adult children would not even consider wanting to leave the family home, and those who did would face societal strain.

What’s underlying both of these scenarios? Values. While I was in coaching school, one of our instructors said that whenever something feels “off” inside of you around any given situation, that situation may be out of alignment with your core values. Most conflicts stem from that same root.

Most of us, however, are unaware of what those values are, let alone the values of our national culture. And why would we be aware? We swim around in our culture and values every day, not conscious that they belong to our system of operation. We only discover them when we come in contact with other systems that “step on” ours.

How can we be expected to resolve team misalignment, to manage projects on time, to solve personal disputes, or to make decisions that work for us if we don’t know what’s driving them?

Here is my invitation to you:

  1. Start with your own core values. Write them on a small index card and carry them with you. When something feels stressful or off, hold that situation up against your core values. What is not lining up? What is resonating? (Example: Some of my core values include empathy, simplicity, independence, musicality, and seeing the best in others.) There are no rules with your values!
  1. Examine the values of your national culture and the cultures of your colleagues. An easy way to do so is by asking your team members! Another highly effective way to explore values is through Cultural Detective Online. This incredibly useful tool comes with “packages” of cultures and their corresponding Values Lenses, as well as Critical Incidents to practice. I use this tool daily!

I have found that by being aware of (and writing down) my own values, I can assess conflicts in a different way. Something can be out of alignment with my values without being wrong or useless. I may even learn a different way to approach a project or negotiation from a global perspective.

To our readers who celebrate, Happy July 4th! To all of our readers, may your life and work be resonating with your values, and may you be open to what this world’s tapestry has to offer.

See you next month!

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson, Chief Collaboration Officer for Highroad Global Services, Inc. inspires people to leverage the full power of differences. She has helped countless large-sized corporations establish successful operations across the globe and build bridges across cultures, distance, and time.

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