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Determining Personal Values [Explained + Examples + How-To]

Determining Personal Values [Explained + Examples + How-To]

In this article you will learn everything about personal values. Here you will find the meaning, examples, lists of values ​​and questions you can ask  to determine, discover and influence values. Read along…

What are Values?

Values, also called criteria , are what we find important . So values ​​are not about what we like and don’t like.

Using the bullet list below, let’s further discover what values ​​are and what they do for us.

  • Values ​​provide insight into the ‘ why of the underlying logical levels : capacities, behavior and environment.
  • Values, unlike behavior, are not sensory perceptible . They are nominalizations.  For a concrete representation of our values, we can look at behavior.
  • For example, values ​​are expressed in the form of core qualities, virtues and positive qualities.
  • There is no right and wrong when it comes to values. The ‘best’ values ​​are the values ​​that are most suitable in the given situation. If you can work that way, it shows flexibility.
  • Values differ per person:  they are very subjective.
  • Values ​​are not related to intelligence, IQ, how people think ( TOTE strategy ) or meta programs such as ‘achieve and avoid’.
  • We are not our values.
  • A value often has three phases: entering a value, having and following a value in full, and an exit period from a value because it is exchanged for a new value.
  • When someone is under stress, he / she may tend to automatically revert to an old value. That is the last value it fulfilled completely.
  • Personal values ​​work hierarchically.  You live by the value, or criterion, that is most important at any given time. There are continuous changes in that unconscious ‘value ranking’ so that you can have a balanced life.
  • Values ​​are context-bound : people can display different values ​​in different areas of their life.
  • Values ​​are also time-bound. As you get older, you find some things more important and some less important. But values ​​are also time-bound on a smaller scale. Before you’ve eaten a dessert, you attach great importance to desserts. You find that value less important after you have finished the dessert, the value has been fulfilled and you may even feel a stomach ache.

What can you do with values? Motivate and influence!

values ​​influence

Values ​​are the motivational sources that precede all of our actions. Values are things you important find. If you think something is important enough, you will do it!

If you don’t go to the gym as often as you want, there is probably something else that is more important.

Moreover, values ​​are so powerful that they go past beliefs and directly influence behavior. That is why values ​​and beliefs are also on the same logical level in Bateson’s model.

How then can values ​​be so powerful? The  NLP communication model  teaches us that values ​​are important filters  for our experience. The value that operates in us largely determines what your  experience  will be and what your  attention  will be focused on.

Do you want to motivate and influence someone’s attention, experience, behavior and capacities? Then get started with values!

You will do something if you have enough reasons (personal values).
– Tony Robbins

An example of the power & effect of values

Well, we now know that values – ie criteria – the things that we major find. Values ​​are very powerful filters that influence our experience, but what are some examples of this? Let’s see…

You may have attended a seminar once. What was important to you in that context? What was the criterion you wanted to satisfy and fulfill in that seminar? This could be  understanding, insight, awareness, education, communication and / or tranquility . So everything that was discussed in the training, you evaluated against those criteria. Because of this, certain lessons struck you very much, while you had not even noticed other lessons.

Values ​​are of course context dependent. If understanding is your criterion in your seminar , and you go out for lunch in the afternoon, then understanding is no longer your criterion. Then  speed, health, convenience or enjoyment is  your criterion.

You evaluate what you do and experience based on your values. If your values ​​change, your behavior and your experience will change.  If health is your criterion, you will automatically eliminate some restaurants in the shopping street  in your experience  because they are not healthy. The person walking next to you, on the other hand, may have in mind the criterion “beneficial” that will automatically make their eyes fall on McDonald’s.

If you change your values, everything changes!

How do values ​​arise?

personal values

Values ​​arise, from birth, from unconscious modeling of other people from our environment. This environment includes:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Region / geography
  • Zeitgeist / Historical events
  • Economy / Degree of prosperity
  • Media
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So all your values ​​are not even your own!  You hear them in your childhood from friends, parents, environment, etc. and you absorb that like a sponge, because as a child you have no critical factor. However, what you learned then does not have to be the case now.

How can you question someone’s (core) values? The best questions …

How can you discover someone’s values? Ask the following questions to query someone’s values ​​(as they are now!):

  • What do you find important (in context x: career, relationships, family, health, spirituality …)?
  • And what else?
  • What do you find important about this?
  • Why do you think that is important? Why is it important for you to {eg. trust} in {context}?
  • What would that do for you? When you reach value x, what could you get, do or feel as a result?
  • What is the most important of that?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Can you remember a time when you were fully motivated in {context}? What was the last thing you felt before that moment?
  • What does that do to you, if value A, B, C and D is there?
  • Can you remember a time when you were fully motivated in {context}? As you remember this time, what was the last thing you felt before you were fully motivated? (The last part of this so-called “TOTE strategy” has to be a feeling because motivation is a feeling.) Can you give me the name of this feeling? Is that feeling important to you? What’s important about that?
  • What motivated you to do this?
  • If there were only three rules for everyone to follow, what would those three rules be?
  • Think about last week. What did you do last week that you really put a lot of effort into?
  • Think of an experience where you were very angry or upset. Which values ​​were not fulfilled?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What would you rebel against and fight against?
  • For what value would you even risk your reputation?
  • What does it mean to have a full and rich life?
  • If you could only bring three things into a difficult, potentially dangerous situation, what are the absolute musts?
  • What is your favorite activity and why ?
  • Who do you admire? And what do you specifically admire about that person?
  • If you have {all the values ​​queried so far}, what else could cause you to leave? (The answer is also a value).
  • If you have {all the values ​​queried so far}, what else would need to be done so that you stay? (The answer is also a value).
  • If necessary, put the values ​​in order: what is most important to you?
  • Take away a value and see if it could be acceptable: “If value A could no longer be fulfilled, but value B could be fulfilled, would that be acceptable, or would you rather never choose value B again – and indeed value A?
  • If necessary, ask the other questions about values ​​from the article about the logical levels  and upchunken .
  • Values ​​can also be seen in someone’s environment, behavior and capacities – the lower logical levels.

What do you want in context x?

What do you think is important with regard to context x?

What makes you do this, what does it get you?

Influencing thanks to values? Question someone’s values ​​and then use them in your language!

You used the questions in the previous section to question someone’s values. For example, someone’s 5 most important value are, in order:

  1. Integrity
  2. Good luck
  3. Relationship
  4. Results
  5. Money

Now you know someone’s personal trance words (values) and you can return them in your speech, for example in compliment form , by saying:

“You know, I really value  integrity  when I work with people, and my desire is that we will achieve great success as a result. In addition, I find it very important that I emphasize a good relationship with whom I work together. That is the right way to results for me . This allows us to earn more money every time .

You can therefore ‘lure’ the other by naming his / her core criteria (most important values) and … You create an environment in which the other functions optimally. You can also make very good use of this in a negotiation situation . Someone’s values ​​already tell us a lot about how the other person influences his / her decisions. So use this technique in a sales pitch too.

This technique is summarized in 4 steps:

  1. Question someone’s values.
  2. Talk about a different topic for 5 minutes. In doing this, step 1 has acted as subliminal priming .
  3. Then come back to it all of a sudden, “By the way, let me ask you this: I know it’s important to you to {name the values ​​you asked for earlier}.
  4. Be sure now, directive and say:

You must {name his / her values}. {What the other has to be convinced about} helps enormously with that. Would you be ready to make that happen now? ‘

Responding to values ​​to convince and motivate someone (technique)

personal values

It is impossible to decline a proposal formulated in your own values. In the previous section you learned a technique for responding to someone’s values. You can also use this principle of questioning – and then returning – of values ​​to influence, convince or motivate someone to achieve their goal . To do this, do the following:

  1. Question the values. You do this by asking the questions you find in the previous section. For example, if you have a design agency and you are talking to a potential customer, ask: ‘What is important to you at {a design agency}? What qualities are you looking for? ‘
  2. Now that you know the values, you can shift your focus to another topic for a moment. Or you can pick up this technique at a later time.
  3. At an appropriate time, you bring the subject back. You have to do this step in a certain tone and directive !
    “Besides, I know it’s important to you to {value}. You  must  {value} (fulfill).
  4. Then immediately offer your desired outcome in the guise of the values ​​of the other. Tip: if you have also figured out the order of the other’s most important values, you can start by naming the most important values! Below are some examples:

To achieve that, it is important to do {your desired outcome}. Would you be willing to make this change now? ‘

“If I have a {product} that contains {value a, b, c, d and e}, would that be of interest to you?”

You know, {name}, because I’m so committed to results and integrity , I want to tell you about an event that will ensure your success , while improving your ability to improve your relationships , while making a lot of money .

How can you change someone’s values?

Changing values ​​is much more effective than changing something at lower logical levels. For example, for someone who is obese, you can bring out their value in a healthy lifestyle in their value hierarchy. As a bonus, you can do a like-to-dislike technique with the client, but the most important thing is that you have worked at value level.

Values ​​can be changed with the technique:  mapping across.  Always do one value intervention at a time and allow a few weeks before changing another value. Make sure you’re not working with your all-important value. This is only recommended for life-and-death situations. You can safely work with the number 2 value and the lower values.

  1. Respect the ecology: recognize the positive intent of the status quo.
  2. What is the value that you would like to make more important? For example self love.
  3. Find a value that you currently consider more important than self-love. For example: contributions.
  4. Find a value that you currently consider far less important than self-love. For example: pay the bills. In this way you may notice a pattern of submodalities – from unimportant to important.
  5. Discover all submodalities of the above three values. The most important thing is location. The body will already unconsciously start gesturing and hinting at the location.
  6. Apply a mapping across to it so that self-love is ultimately the main submodality (s).
  7. Future pace.
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You can also use mapping across to change the order of your values. For example, you can swap the value that is currently in 4th place for you with the number 2 value (prefer not to work with the number 1 value) by swapping the submodalities of these two values: ‘If you think about how important {value} in {context} is in front of you, do you have an image? Change the submodalities from value 4 to those of value 1, so that value 4 becomes value 2.

Finally, it makes sense to use the remote submodality anyway. Have you put your desired values ​​on paper and do you want an extra way to bring this goal closer? Then let it literally come closer! Have you made a mood board or drawing of your goal? Then ask someone to stand with the blade in front of you and come closer and closer, while you also get closer to the blade. Take it all in with your body and sprinkle it over your timeline.

Becoming aware of your values: put your most important values ​​in order in a list

personal values

Make a list of your most important values ​​in order. Then ask yourself:

  1. Which are interrelated?
  2. Which clash with each other?
  3. Which are tricky to live by?
  4. How true are you to your top 3 values?
  5. How do you give them to yourself?

People don’t do things to achieve goals, but to fulfill values. Goals fulfill values.

The highest possible value: the core state

The highest possible value exists! It is so high that it even rises to the identity level in the logical levels. It is something you can long for, and thus see it as value. We are talking here about the core state: what you are in essence. This is not actually a value – it transcends all values.

The core state of ‘mere being’  is so powerful that it is not bound by contexts: you can experience it anywhere and at any time. It can mainly be calibrated in someone, but if you were to put it in words, Connirae and Tamara Andreas have made five descriptions for this.

  1. Being pure, ie presence, fullness, completeness … Without any opinion or conviction of who I am. It goes beyond self-awareness (our self-image). It is simply ‘being’. You are completely involved in an experience and you are completely absorbed in it. This happens, for example, when people play sports.
  2. Inner peace
  3. Love. This includes everything and everyone. John Roger: ‘If your consciousness is developed high enough, everyone has the same name. That name is love. ‘
  4. Okay
  5. One-being, or oneness and non-duality: I am everything, everything is me, there is no separation.

The “being-state” is reached when you hear, “I don’t know.”

Transition of values: suitable substitutions?

You may sometimes find yourself in a sense of victimization, pain, rejection, guilt, a sense of unworthiness, control, fear, or limitations.

Consider the following possible transitions of values. Would these be suitable substitutes for values ​​you currently hold?

Understanding, self-acceptance, forgiveness, complete ‘go with the flow’, trust, peace, commitment, letting go and being a leader, the infinite in everything, the unity …

Lists of values? Use the Clare Graves value model

Check out this Clare Graves model on values. He divided values ​​into 8 levels.


1. Survival-oriented [Survival]

  • It is enough for humanity to survive and reproduce.
  • Instinctively, automatically.
  • The essence of human survival.
  • Minimal impact on the environment.
  • Internal locus of control. Living conditions external.

2. Society-oriented [A clan-like ‘we’]

  • Not me, but us.
  • True to myths / gods / nationalism.
  • Loyal to the elderly, the clan.
  • Preservation of sacred places, objects and rituals.
  • Together we are strong and we remain safe.
  • External locus of control, internal thinking systems.

This is a good idea because our honored leader says so.

3. Aggression-oriented [A powerful ‘I’]

  • Express yourself. Who cares what others do.
  • Consequences are not important.
  • Everyone for themselves.
  • Fleeing from dominance of others or from nature.
  • Avoid shame and guilt. Gaining respect.
  • Immediately satisfy impulses and feelings.
  • Fight to gain control, whatever it takes.
  • Not limited by consequences.
  • Wouldn’t buy back soon after buying something from you before.
  • Alpha behavior, physically aggressive.
  • Internal locus of control. Living conditions external.

This is a good idea because I like it here and now.

4. System-oriented [A just ‘we’]

  • A quest for safety: sacrificing yourself in the now so that you receive a reward later (For example: retirement or in the afterlife).
  • Finding meaning and purpose in life.
  • Sacrificing yourself on the path to truth.
  • Bringing order and stability (and future rewards).
  • Stand behind the principles of righteous living.
  • Tries everything not to fail.
  • Obey. And the others must obey too. “He shouldn’t.”
  • Indirectly, does not seek confrontation.
  • Organized: we will get there with plans.
  • Not conducive to creativity (it even stops).
  • Always the same. Predictability.
  • Black or white. Good or bad.
  • Driven by guilt.
  • One right way.
  • Dogmatic.
  • Many modal operators: ‘It should be like this, we should …’
  • Ideologically aggressive.
  • External locus of control, internal thinking systems.

This is a good idea because it follows the laws.

5. Materialism-oriented [A strategic ‘I’]

  • Express yourself without putting others down.
  • Strive for autonomy and independence.
  • Seeking ‘the good life’ and abundance.
  • Improving the way of life for many people thanks to technology.
  • Play to Win and Enjoy Competition.
  • Learning through experience. Fails and tries again. The end justifies the means.
  • Risk.
  • Action.
  • Power.
  • Straight away.
  • Creative.
  • ‘No soul’.
  • Cold, dissociated.
  • Useful, practical.
  • Materialistically aggressive. Enterprising. Let yourself win, as long as they win a little more themselves.
  • Can wait for delayed reward. (Value level 3 cannot).
  • Good at selling and rethinking . It had to somehow circumvent the value level 4 system (for example by redefining).
  • Still thinks deductively: scientific.
  • If he buys something from you, he will make a re-purchase later.
  • Thinks, ‘How did he do that? I have to learn that too! ‘
  • Internal locus of control. Living conditions external.

This is a good idea because it serves my goals and plans.

6. Group- and goal-oriented [A community-like ‘we’]

  • Sacrifice now to gain acceptance (from the group) later.
  • Freeing people from greed and dogma.
  • Discovering the inner beings of ourselves and others.
  • Promote a sense of unity and community.
  • Distribute the resources of society evenly among everyone.
  • Making decisions by consensus.
  • Don’t want to be rejected.
  • Not an entrepreneur.
  • Social, adapts.
  • Everyone can share. But nothing is done in the meantime.
  • Sacrifice it now to get results in the now.
  • Teamwork above being an expert. “Let’s work together.”
  • Is seen as weak and pathetic by value levels 3 and 4.
  • Don’t express their feelings the way they want to.
  • Spiritual, but not dogmatic.
  • Is (spiritually) awakening, but does nothing about it.
  • Prefers to practice Zen meditation than to materialistic endeavors, and suffer the consequences.
  • Renew spirituality and bring harmony.
  • Aggression is hidden (and can manifest elsewhere).
  • Depressed (not happy).
  • External locus of control, internal thinking systems.

This is a good idea because we have reached consensus on it.

7. Functional flow [An integrated ‘I’]

  • Express yourself for what you desire, but never at the expense of others and in a way that benefits all life.
  • Self-coaching (namely has returned to an internal locus of control. What others think is no longer important.)
  • Not afraid of all the things that underlying levels are afraid of.
  • A few deep relationships instead of wide acceptance by everyone.
  • Free. Express.
  • Confidence.
  • Going back to the action: do it.
  • Functionality instead of efficiency.
  • Great complexity of thinking (no intelligence).
  • Going with the flow of nature and accept its inevitability.
  • Focus on functionality and competences.
  • Finding a natural mix of conflicting ‘truths’.
  • Experiencing the fullness of life on earth.
  • Needs flexibility and open systems.
  • Internal locus of control. Living conditions external.

This is a good idea because it is the most functional approach.

8. Global Flux [A holistic ‘we’]

  • Unit.
  • ‘I do not know.’
  • Do more with less.
  • Respect for everyone.
  • Merge, harmonize, a strong collective.
  • Focusing on the good of all living things.
  • The ‘self’ is part of a larger, conscious whole.
  • Global networking is seen as routine.
  • Acts of minimalist living: less is more.
  • External locus of control, internal thinking systems.

This is a good idea because it ultimately benefits the living system.

About these Graves value levels

  • The higher in the value levels you get, the less interest in children you develop.
  • The problems of a value level can be solved by the level above it.
  • You can be done with a value level at some point. You can then ‘finish it’. However, that doesn’t mean you hate it or love it, but you can just move on to fulfill another value.

Exercise: check within your organization whether everyone has the same values

In a small business it is essential to do a values ​​alignment: everyone must have the same values ​​in the work context and be ‘cohesive’.

This was the article on values. Let us know in the comments how you work with values.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!

1 Comment

  1. Realist

    Your website came up when I googled, “how to change values nlp”.

    Because of a toxic environment, my core values were about seeking protection, safety and security in career and relationships. Now that I have been nurtured enough, I want to upgrade my values to ‘growth, risk-taking, adventure, sharing, giving, and abundance’.

    How do I do that?

    Great work on your website.