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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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2 Personal values

You will now explore personal values and how these have an impact on your interest in, and choice of, particular types of work and organisation. You will also examine how you work or volunteer, and how you interact with other people who may or may not share your values. Values are just one component in people’s behaviour and actions: motivation, abilities, education and temperament also play a part (and are also wider components of an individual’s personality).

Personal values stem from our social background, religion (if we have one), ethnic origin, culture, upbringing, education and our experiences of life and work. Personal values are not static. They continue to evolve during our lifetime as we experience new situations and people’s behaviours, particularly ones involving conflict or difference, or ones we find surprising or offensive. These encounters provide opportunities to question and rethink our own values. Of course, people may not be fully conscious of the values they hold or of the value judgements they are making when taking particular actions. People are also not necessarily consistent in their behaviour, and there may be a discrepancy between what we say our values are and how we act.

Activity 2 What is important to you?

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Answer the questionnaire on personal values provided below. It is best to do this fairly quickly without thinking about the statements too much, but if you want to spend more time on it – perhaps because the concept of thinking about values still feels strange – then do so. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions – it is designed merely to get you to reflect on your own values and what you hold important. When you have finished the questionnaire, make sure you scroll the bottom of the screen to read our comments on this activity.

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There may be as many values and beliefs as there are people in the world. This questionnaire, however, looked at the following set of values:

  • being the best and helping others to achieve
  • caring and having compassion for others
  • caring for the environment
  • doing what is right and proper
  • equality
  • faith and religious belief
  • the importance of being part of a group
  • the importance of being part of a community.

Based on your results, you might want to consider:

  • how you might work alongside people whose values are quite different from your own
  • how your values do or do not correspond with those of your organisation (if you are working)
  • what happens when the values that you hold contradict each other
  • how values impact on assumptions about, and understanding conflict.

Of course, in an ideal world, you might see all of these values as important, but the questionnaire forced you to make choices. As you work through the remainder of this section, you might want to continue reflecting on what your core values are. These may be quite different from those included in the questionnaire.

When you have to choose:

  • What is most important?
  • What will you compromise on?
  • What is not open for discussion?