In this post I discuss the Role of Values and Viewpoints in conflict- When people have different values and viewpoints there is also the potential for conflict. It’s important to understand the difference between values and viewpoints, because while they are often connected they are not the same.
Values – Values are often defined as some of the most basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate us. They help each of us determine what we find important. There are usually some standard values that exist in every person and play a role in how we interact with another person. Some people consider major and primary values to include: the ability to trust, the respect of others and self-respect, the ability to show affection, showing empathy for others, having gratitude for things and people, and love.
In a future set of posts on persuasion, I’ll discuss how the Greeks had laid out the three things we need to be able to persuade others to act.If we have convinced the receiver of our message that our values are the same as theirs then we have an excellent chance of success. On the other hand, if they perceive that our values do not align with theirs then conflict will arise. If we are in a group setting and part of the group doesn’t believe that every other person shares their values, conflict will arise. It’s important to remember that different values are often reflected in the different viewpoints that people have about issues.
Viewpoints – We traditionally see the affect and conflict that values have on viewpoints more often in person-to-person relations and general society than organizations. Organizations are usually guided by either a desire to make a profit or in the case of non-profit organizations to meet established goals. We often see conflict in marriages and other interpersonal relationships when communication starts to fail. When one partner begins to have values that are different than the other partner’s that causes conflicts. In fact, one of the biggest causes of divorce is changing values and viewpoints. This most often occurs when couples do not communicate with one another. When they fail to be open and honest with each other that can create a rift that is sometimes impossible to mend.
In society in general we really see it play out in the political arena. Conflict is displayed on a daily basis on social media and in the regular media. The viewpoints of the progressives in the United States versus the viewpoints of the conservatives in the United States is a constant source of conflict. Both sides are adamant that the values they espouse are the correct values. As a result, their viewpoints on what to do about the issues are wildly different. Neither side is willing to cooperate with the other and both sides refuse to actually communicate with each other. While conflict in organizations isn’t always instigated by different values, there can be very different viewpoints.
If we are sitting in a group meeting and we know our goal is to increase sales and develop new markets, there might be several different viewpoints that are presented. In fact, one recent example of how different values resulted in conflict in an organization was seen in what is known as the Bud Light campaign. The marketing director, a young progressive, decided that based on her values, the company had to change their viewpoint of their market. She neglected to take into consideration the values and viewpoints of the existing market and her campaign was an unmitigated disaster. As a result the workforce suffered.
In my next post, I’ll take a closer look at how the workplace can suffer because of internal conflict.