Personal values, belief and attitudes
As human beings, we all have our own values, beliefs and attitudes that we have developed throughout the course of our lives. Our family, friends, community and the experiences we have had all contribute to our sense of who we are and how we view the world. As community services workers, we are often working with people who are vulnerable and/or who may live a lifestyle that mainstream society views as being different or unacceptable. If, as community services workers, we are to provide a service that meets the needs of our target groups and helps them to feel empowered, we need to be aware of our own personal values, beliefs and attitudes and be prepared to adopt the professional values of our industry—and not impose our own ideas on our clients.
What are values?
Values are principles, standards or qualities that an individual or group of people hold in high regard. These values guide the way we live our lives and the decisions we make. A value may be defined as something that we hold dear, those things/qualities which we consider to be of worth.
A ‘value’ is commonly formed by a particular belief that is related to the worth of an idea or type of behaviour. Some people may see great value in saving the world’s rainforests. However a person who relies on the logging of a forest for their job may not place the same value on the forest as a person who wants to save it.
Values can influence many of the judgments we make as well as have an impact on the support we give clients. It is important that we do not influence client’s decisions based on our values. We should always work from the basis of supporting the client’s values.
Activity: What are some of my values?
1.Manners—are they old fashioned? Do they hold a high or low value in your life? 2.Pride—are there things you need to be proud of? Do you value pride or do you value humility? 3.Clothes—how important are clothes at work? At play?
4.Behaviour on the sports field—what behaviours do you value? Sportsmanship? Winning? Team spirit? Individuality? 5.Family life? What do you value about family life?
Write down some of the values you hold in these areas. Talk to friends and family members. Ask them these same questions. Do the answers differ?
Where do values come from?
Our values come from a variety of sources. Some of these include: •family
•peers (social influences)
•the workplace (work ethics, job roles)
•educational institutions such as schools or TAFE
•significant life events (death, divorce, losing jobs, major accident and trauma, major health issues, significant financial losses and so on) •religion
•major historical events (world wars, economic depressions, etc).
Dominant values are those that are widely shared amongst a group, community or culture. They are passed on through sources such as the media, institutions, religious organisations or family, but remember what is considered dominant in one culture or society will vary to the next.
Using the sources listed above, some of your values could be: •family—caring for each other, family comes first
•peers—importance of friendship, importance of doing things that peers approve of •workplace—doing your job properly; approving/disapproving of ‘foreign orders’ (doing home-related activities in work time or using work resources for home related activities) •educational institutions—the valuing or otherwise of learning; value of self in relation to an ability to learn (this often depends on personal experience of schooling, whether positive or negative) •significant life events—death of loved ones and the impact on what we value as being important; marriage and the importance and role of marriage and children; separation and divorce and the value change that may be associated with this (valuing of self or otherwise) •religion—beliefs about ‘right and wrong’ and...
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