How To Choose The Right Relationship: An Exercise to Uncover Your Values and Your Partners

February 19, 2016


So it was Valentines Day last weekend and it’s a day that prompts a reflection on the quality and value of the relationships we have or the relationships that we want in our lives. Choosing friends, lovers, colleagues can be difficult if we have got it wrong in the past and been hurt. So how can we ensure that we get it right? Let’s start by considering what values are and then we’ll introduce you to an exercise you can do to identify your own values and also, if you train as a coach, facilitate with other people to help them identify their values.


Within the coaching field values are one of three fundamental elements along with beliefs and goals. Values are fascinating as they often lie in your unconscious mind and many people are not aware of their own core values - what makes them feel at ease with the world and give a strong feeling of safety and security when we are living our life and making decisions in line with our values. Values are the things that are important to you, that you need to be present in your life in order for you to feel happy. Some examples include freedom, peace, achievement and security.  They are a filter that you use for deciding if something is right or wrong. In a relationship context think about being with someone who wouldn’t want you to have your own friends or go out without them. How would you feel about this? Does it trigger a freedom value for you?


Aligning actions with values ensures greater satisfaction when achieving your goals i.e. a loving and fulfilling relationship. For example, if you have a core value of freedom then being explicit about this when you meet someone can help to filter out incompatible potential partners. Values drive behaviour as they are a key motivator. So thinking about your own values, what values does your behaviour demonstrate? How is thta affecting the relaitonships you choose? What are the values fingerprints you are leaving now and for the future? Are you unsure what your values are? Here's a useful exercise to help you to identify your values. We share this and facilitate the process with our leadership development cohorts, trainee coaches and coachees on a regular basis. My husband and I did this exercise when I was training to be a coach. It provided us with real insight into what was fundamentally important to each other and why. Although we had discussed these things early on in our relationship this exercise took the conversaiton to another level. Not only did it give insight into ourselves and how we work but also each other. This has provided a really strong foundation for our marriage.


Ideally you will work with a partner or a coach to do this, but you can also do it on your own initially. Lets focus in or relationship values this time, although you can use the same exercise for career, family, life, health, fitness etc


STEP 1 : What’s important to you in a relationship?

Write down what comes to mind in your OWN WORDS.

Ask yourself WHAT ELSE (at least 3 times)?


STEP 2  

Can you remember a time when you were totally happy in the context of a relationship? Can you remember a specific time?

When a time is identified ask yourself:

“What was the last thing I felt just before I was totally happy? What was that feeling?

When have an answer, ask yourself “What is important to me about that?”

Keep repeating and write the words down as they come to you.


STEP 3 ; Review your list of values so far and ask yourself:

“All these values being present in a relationship is there anything else that would tempt me into another relationship?

Record new words and repeat until nothing new comes to you.


STEP 4: Ask yourself:

“If I had all of this in my relationship is there anything else that would encourage me to stay in the relationship?

Record any new words and repeat until nothing new comes to you.


STEP 5:  Ranking

Now rank your values according to their value to you. Do the top 10 in the following way:

  • Of the above values, which is the most important to you?

  • Assuming you have this one, what’s the next most important thing on the list

  • Repeat until all 10 are prioritized

STEP 6:   Order

Re-write the values in order


STEP 7:    Test

Create two lists. The first has values 6-10 (name them) the second has values 1-5 (name them). Ask yourself “Which relationship would you choose?”. If the order is correct you will pick the second. If not re-work until you wholeheartedly pick the second.


Take ten minutes to reflect. What did you learn? What did you notice? What did you discover? What surprised you? What action do you want to take? What will you do differently?


When Zoe Hawkins and I set up In Good Company we spent time discussing our personal values and our relationship values as we were building on our friendship by adding a business relationship. We considered how they would compliment each other and also any areas where there was potential for conflict or tension and what we would do to address that. We have found this to be a strong foundation of our business and given us personal satisfaction. It was by knowing and exploring our own relationship values that we realised that we wanted to work for ourselves helping others to be the best leaders and people they can be and why In Good Company was formed. It is also the reason that we have become an ILM Approved Centre to deliver Coaching and Mentoring qualifications.

Our values are:

Authenticity -We believe in living our lives in line with our values. We are true to ourselves and we aspire to be the best we can be and that is what we work with others to identify and achieve.

Sustained Change - Our Leadership and Management Development  Programmes and Coaching interventions deliver sustained change. Our approach is about whole person development and our solutions learning is sustained past the duration of our programmes.

Realising Potential -We believe people have unlimited potential, we facilitate the discovery and fulfilment of this through shared learning experiences.

Outcome Driven -We deliver results. The results that you ask for and need. We believe one of our strengths is our ability to interpret your needs and deliver outcomes that are both innovative and inspirational.

Long Term Relationships -We like to get to know our clients and really understand their needs and culture. We value long term relationships and will work with you from the outset with the longer view in mind.

Fun -People learn best when they are are having fun, we create programmes and experiences that people will enjoy.


If you are wanting to explore and identify your own values then please get in touch to discuss your needs and the many ways that we can support you or join one of our Coaching Trainings.

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