Working with Values

One of my favourite subjects this semester for uni has been my subject “The Future of Work”. In this subject, we have looked at values in the workplace with a narrative focus. This means, we have borrowed some reflection techniques from psychology to analyse the values that we see in ourselves and others when highlighted through the use of story telling.

I had the privilege of practicing some of the techniques we’ve been studying with a friend through an interview.

Our interview focused on his values over the years and some experiences that challenged and exposed them. My approach was to discuss his experiences from his first job to where he is now and his growth in that change. Unfortunately, this plan was derailed as I discovered that he has been working with his company since he started it at age 16.

Determined to persevere, I used this as an opportunity to understand how someone could work the same job for so long. His commitment and resilience really inspired me, as I know working in one place for 4 decades would be incredibly difficult for me.

One of my favourite things about this interview was my friend’s willingness to share practical advice and encouragement. I really value mentorship and learning from those who have walked before me, so doing this interview and encouraging me in my values really meant a lot to me. My favourite thing he said was:

“Know what you want to do, know what your values are, know what the type of work that you want to do, and say ‘No’ when they don’t align.”

Chatting with someone so experienced really made me question my values and how I let them steer my career choices. It highlighted to me the values we share and showed me that I want them to be clear to the people around me like they are to those around him.

In editing this interview to present to my class, I noticed that there were a few things I could have touched on more in our interview. At one point I said “I’m struggling to remember what I’m supposed to ask, because I’m just enjoying chatting with you so much“. Upon reflection, this is a clear representation of how much I valued the interview and the opportunity. A few years ago, while studying my Diploma, I was taught the phrase “People over Program”. A value that I still prioritise.

In analysing this interview for class, I used three principles developed by Psychologist Michael White to draw out my friends values:

  • Externalising Conversation: Naming your own actions and values in your own words,
  • Outsider Witnessing: Noticing that what you pick up in the stories of others reflects your values as much as theirs,
  • Absent but Implicit: Noticing that you sometimes discover that a value is important to you when you are offended, hurt, frustrated, or discouraged because it is missing

These principles highlighted both of our values throughout our conversation. You can find out more about these principles through the links below.

Carey, M, Walther, S, & Russell, S 2009, ‘The Absent but Implicit: A Map to Support Therapeutic Enquiry’, FAMiLY PROCESS, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 319-331, [Link]

Carey, M, & Russell, S 2003, ‘Outsider-Witness Practices: some answers to commonly asked questions’, The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, No. 1, [Link]

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