Lesson 4 of 7 - optimize your relationships


How We Handle
 Values Conflicts Now

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this worksheet is https://sfhelp.org/relate/vc_wks.htm

Updated  03-02-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 4 - optimize your relationships.

      This brief YouTube video clip summarizes options for resolving "values conflicts:" The intro mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this Web site - I've reduced that to seven.

       This worksheet can help you learn how you and/or other people handle one of three universal relationship stressors - values conflicts. The other stressors are loyalty conflicts (a type of values conflict) and relationship triangles. All three dynamics are very common in typical troubled relationships and families.

      To get the most from this worksheet, first study...

  • the intro to this Web site and the premises underlying it 

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 thru 4

  • this overview of the three common stressors, and...

  • this article on resolving values conflicts

      The first steps in reducing values conflicts is to understand what they are, what causes them, and why they're a problem. The next step is to get clear on how you and a partner normally react to them. This is not about blaming anyone, it's about raising your awareness! 


Decide if your true Self is guiding your other subselves (personality) now. If not, try to free your Self to lead, or your responses to this worksheet may be skewed

Choose the unbiased curiosity of a student, and expect to learn something useful from filling out this worksheet

Print this worksheet, and underline, asterisk, write notes or comments, and/or use a highlighter as you fill it out

Find a quiet, comfortable place to do this, and pick a time when you're rested, alert, and undistracted

Pick a special past or present relationship (including kids), and apply the items below to it. Take your time, meditate, and notice your thoughts and feelings without judgment as you progress

Accept or adapt the proposed conflict-resolution steps here to fit your personality and style, and compare them to your results below. See this for more detail after you finish this worksheet.

After you finish, decide if you want to...

  • improve your present way of managing values conflicts, and/or...

  • discuss your results with someone, and/or...

  • rate another relationship.


      How Do You Handle Values Conflicts Now?  

      Identify a value, belief, preference, or priority that you and someone else significantly disagree on.  Think of the most recent time you experienced this conflict, and answer the following. T = true, F = false, and ? = "I'm not sure," or "I can't remember."

Each of us was guided by our true Self at the time  (T  F  ?)

We both understood clearly what a values conflict was  (T  F  ?)

We each had agreed on the key steps required to resolve major values conflicts  (T  F  ?)

We each _ assessed for and _ resolved any internal conflicts first  (T  F  ?)

We both agreed that we had a mutual values conflict  (T  F  ?)

We both wanted to take enough time to discuss and resolve this conflict  (T  F  ?)

We each felt that our partner's needs and dignities were as important as our own  (T  F  ?)

We took the time to identify and acknowledge our respective primary needs in this situation  (T  F  ?)

We each (a) knew these seven communication skills, and (b) used them effectively as partners, not opponents  (T  F  ?)

We helped each other maintain (a) a shared focus, and (b) a two-person awareness bubble as we clarified and negotiated our values conflict/s  (T  F  ?)

We each felt heard, respected, and satisfied enough with the outcome of our negotiation  (T  F  ?)

      If you can't answer "True" to the last item, take your time and see which of these best describes your attempt to resolve this values conflict. Check all that apply:

1) _  one or _  both of us ignored or denied that we had an important values conflict

2) _  one or _  both of us ignored our significant internal values conflicts (between active personality subselves)

3) _  one or _ both of us were unclear on _ our and/or _ our partner's current primary needs

4) _  one or _ both of us expected that we would not resolve this conflict effectively

5) _  one or _ both of us tried to persuade or force the other person to agree with our value and discount their integrity

6) _  one or _ both of us focused on explaining why our value, preference, perception, or priority was right, implying that our partner's value was wrong (vs. different)

7) _  one or _ both of us became focused on winning, rather than on win-win resolution

8) _  one or _ both of us equated compromising with losing and/or being "weak"

9) _  one or _ both of us pretended to agree with the other to end the discussion (or struggle)

10) _  one or _ both of us "shut down" (stopped participating) or physically withdrew.

11) _  one or _ both of us became sarcastic, scornful, critical, and/or brought up other issues and/or _ focused on the past or the future, rather than the present

12) _  one or _ both of us was doing other things while we talked (wasn't concentrating)

13) _  one or _ both of us used fuzzy and/or black/white (rigid) thinking

14) _  one or _ both of us felt the other person wasn't hearing them

15) _  one or both of us _ was unaware of how we were trying to resolve our conflict, or _ was unwilling to discuss that

16) _  one or _ both of us used some other communication blocks

17) _  (something else)



      Pause, breathe, stretch, and notice your thoughts and feelings now without judgment. Try saying out loud what you just learned about how you and your partner tried to resolve this values conflict. Expand your awareness, and see if there is a pattern to your resolution attempts with most or all of your values conflicts with (a) this person and (b) other important adults and kids at home and at work.


  • Do nothing with your worksheet results, or postpone doing something

  • Feel overwhelmed by what you learned here, and decide to make no changes

  • Patiently follow all the links in this worksheet and the related popups to increase your awareness and options

  • Ask someone to fill out a copy of this worksheet, and discuss your mutual learnings as partners

  • Show your completed worksheet to someone, and discuss it with them. Option - ask them to validate your observations about how you and this partner usually react to values conflicts

  • Identify specific things about resolving values conflicts that you want to change, do so, and see what happens

  • Reread this article to clarify your understanding and options

  • Review this article on win-win problem solving

  • Review this real-life example of how unresolved values and loyalty conflicts eroded a remarriage

  • Read this article about loyalty conflicts and fill out the related worksheet

      More options...

  • Identify serious values conflicts in your current life, and apply your learnings here toward resolving them

  • Teach any kids in your life what you're learning about spotting and resolving values conflicts

  • Show this worksheet and related articles to any counselor, coach, or therapist you're working with now

  • Use this worksheet periodically with all your family members to track your progress in resolving your values conflicts over time. Remind each other that this worksheet is not about blaming or fault-finding, it's about learning and getting more needs met!  Or...

  • Do something else (what?)

       Reality check - on a scale of one (I have no interest in trying these options now) to ten (I'm very motivated to try these steps today), my motivation is a ___.


      A values conflict occurs when two or more people disagree on significant preferences, beliefs, perceptions, and/or priorities. Usually, the best solution to them is to seek a mutually-acceptable compromise, or respectfully agree to disagree, rather than avoiding, pretending, fighting, arguing, manipulating, or trying to persuade or force each other to change.

      An inability to do this usually indicates significant psychjological wounds + ineffective communication skills in one or both people. Self-improvement Lessons 1 and 2 provide practical ways to help reduce each of these over time.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this worksheet? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your wise true Self, or ''someone else''?  

 This worksheet is very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful    

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