When Values Collide

When Values Collide

Last night, I spoke at a local winery about Values–such a great combination a gathering of women, enjoying a couple glasses of wine talking about Living Happier–I mean I totally love my job–(end of gush). One thing I love about speaking to a group is the amazing, insightful questions I get.  To know that people are really thinking about this stuff and trying to apply it to their own lives is so fun to watch and an honor to facilitate.

One thing that came up a lot last night was the idea of conflicting values.  When you have a value that is different from someone else (especially a significant other) how can you handle that?

So, today I want to tell a story about conflicting values.  Frank LOVES the band Phish and they are doing an album tour this year.  He is planning to go to as many concerts as he can and his wife, Mindy has agreed to this plan. Mindy isn’t a huge Phish fan but if he wants to spend his weekends attending shows she is ok with that.  She has figured out childcare and even scheduled a few fun trips for herself and the kids.  Then she realizes that 2 of the concerts fall on family events; 1 is a family reunion for his family and the other is Mindy’s sister’s birthday.  After realizing there is a conflict in scheduling Mindy tells him assuming that he will cancel his concert plans to go with her to the family events.  Upon discussion, she quickly realizes she has assumed wrong.  For him, Phish takes precedence over both events.

Frank’s  Perspective: “It is a once and a life time event he argues, I may never get to see them again, family will always be there”

Mindy’s Perspective: “This is family, you have to attend, there is nothing more important than family, what if something happens to Uncle Max and he isn’t at the next reunion.”

Frank’s Perspective: “I can see Uncle Max anytime, my family will understand and you can go and have fun”


Frank values getting to see Phish and everything that seeing Phish includes: his independence, his youth, hearing good music, being outdoors with friends etc.

Mindy values family and everything that includes: supporting her husband while he feeds his values, attending all family events, spending as much time with family as possible.

There are many ways to handle this conflict (and that is a subject for another blog post).  Compromise and communication being 2 of the keys.  But the biggest thing that gets missed in the conflict (and the point of THIS blog post) is that Frank isn’t doing anything wrong, he isn’t a bad person, he isn’t selfish or evil (for that point, neither is Mindy).  He simply values different things.  And that is OK.   It is OK for him to value something different than Mindy.   So often when there are conflicting values our first instinct is to criticize belittle or want to change the other person’s values to meet ours.  The beauty of values is we each have them and we can make choices that effect our lives based on them.  And those choices have consequences   But when we are clear on what we value we are willing to deal with the consequences in order to meet our values.

Mindy was clear that she didn’t want to see Phish because she wanted to spend time with family.  Frank was clear that he wasn’t going to the family events that fell on a Phish concert because he valued seeing the band more.  The compromise was that Mindy attended the events without Frank and made plans to stay extra days and visit with family she normally doesn’t get to see and Frank made plans to visit Uncle Max and other family members at a later day. A Happy Ending for all.

I would love to hear from you in the comments below: What is your reaction to Frank and Mindy’s story?  How would you handle that situation? Have you ever had to deal with conflicting values?