We all have different things we hold in high value. The parent of a toddler values their personal time. The recent college graduate values the ability to pay off their student loans while doing what they enjoy. A business person values the client that matches their expectations. And the teacher values a student that fully engages in learning.
When attributing value to something, we assume that it’s shared. I belong to a business group where I’m supposed to be able to get a question that’s worth $1,000 answered by my colleagues every month. Unfortunately, I’m not getting such a return from the group, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. It just so happens that I value $1,000 differently than I value the insight I gain. But since the value that’s been attributed to the group is monetary, I’m experiencing a disconnect.
It is easy to compare value with money, material goods and things that are easy to quantify. But the things we value most, don’t translate easily to such tangible outcomes. So why do we keep grasping at straws to compare the value of what our businesses offer in these antiquated ways?
One reason is because we assume that people are rational and logical when we are actually emotional by nature. Given such a false assumption we don’t typically know what people truly value. Frank Bettger said, “A man generally has two reasons for doing a thing – one that sounds good and a real one.” Money sounds good but it isn’t the real reason; it doesn’t actually speak to the things that people deeply care about.
To understand what people truly value, you have to go into research mode. Your best bet is to ask people questions that will indirectly provide insight and analyze their answers for common themes or patterns. For example, What’s important to you? What would make your job a lot easier right now? What would drastically improve the quality of your life right now? What keeps you up at night?
Then observe their behavior in comparison to their answers. Someone might say they value other people’s opinions yet whenever someone else is talking, their eyes wander, they check their cell phone, tap their foot and seem to be off in la-la land. Our actions, more truthfully, demonstrate our values as there’s often a disconnect between what one espouses versus what they practice (remember there’s the reason that sounds good and the real reason).
So the next time you’re attributing value to something in an effort to gain the support of others take a moment to consider the deeper implications rather than the obvious, easily quantifiable reasons.