When values collide at work

A friend of my recently attended a conference for the direct selling organisation that she is a part of of. An event she was really looking forward to. It was not at all what she expected. I wonder if you can relate? This is her story…                             

It was ten to nine. Women started pushing towards the door – the big event was about to begin! Door opened, they all ran screaming to get the best seats! A little like the Myer Stocktake Sale! This took my friend a little by surprise.

Before the event they had been encouraged to send in a photo that symbolised what was important to them. My friend sent in a photo of herself on her meditation cushion with the words peace, love, joy. Her team leader – a picture of a dollar sign.

The event focus was on maximising sales and their preferred sales techniques. This made my friend’s skin crawl. When they spoke about the charities they support, she felt herself physically relax.

The final session was all about goals. Powerful music, inspirational words and the opportunity to reflect on where they wanted to be in the next 12 months. My friend wrote madly. Words that spoke of family, connection, inner peace, happiness.

They were encouraged to share their No. 1 goal with the person sitting next to them. There was that sinking feeling again, as my friend shared her desire for peace of mind and her partner, that trip to Paris! If my friend didn’t know it before, she certainly knew it now. She was in the wrong room.

This may be happening for you at work. That sense that your values and the values of your employer don’t match up. You may want to focus on service, they want to focus on cutting costs. You want more connection and support, they want to get the job done as quickly as possible. You want time to spend with your family, they want you to work some weekends.

This create lots of tension and stress on you. It can really affect your health and your happiness in other areas of your life. When you have a desire to express yourself and what is important to you, through your work, it can feel suffocating when there is no space for this.

It may feel like the only answer is to leave your job and find one where your values are in alignment. In the long term this could be the answer. Is is not always possible to leave your job immediately. You have to live too.

There is a powerful learning opportunity present in this situation. We often learn more about what we do want, when faced with a situation that makes us uncomfortable. I call it a lesson in contrast. This means that you will know exactly the environment that you want to be a part of, if or when you do decide to change jobs.

So here are my three suggestions to turn this situation into something that really works for you.

1. When faced with a situation at work that makes you, uncomfortable write down a brief description of the event. Example: Everyone needs to use this script or process when interacting with a client.

2. Take some time to reflect on why it challenges you so much. Example: I feel really frustrated. I feel like it doesn’t allow me to connect with what that person is really telling me. I don’t feel like I can meet their needs the way I would love to.

3. From this deduce what is important to you in your workplace. It will be the opposite! Example: I know from this that real connection and support is really important to me.

There is much more that we can delve into from this topic – and we will next time! This is a great starting point.

Closing thoughts…

There is so much we can learn from situations such as this. Know that what you want to give to another, is often what you long for yourself. So be gentle with yourself in the fortnight to come.

Notice if there are some opportunities for you to give yourself what is important to you. You may just find that this makes work, just that little bit easier.

If you would like some support please click on the link – Contact Shiona and request a complimentary 30 minute Bring Your Heart to Your Work Session. I would be my pleasure to to assist you.


Shiona Long


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