How “Traditional Values” Can Create Challenges

Attitudes and Values

I have been certified in an assessment process call “Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values.” One of the six main values that people are rated on is called the “Traditional” value. The other values are Theoretical, Social, Utilitarian, Individualistic, and Aesthetic (contact me if you require more information.) There are many ways to interpret these assessments and yet this “value,” Traditional, often creates a real interest for me as I review these reports.

A person with a very high score in the “Traditional” value is often a person driven by a very strong set of principles that often makes it appear that this individual is seeing the world in a “black and white” way. Their learned values, whether these are political or religious, are very rigid with little openness to compromise or to have the flexibility to see an opposing point of view. Very often a person with a high score in this value may have very strong religious connections or beliefs. These might include religious zealots, people with strong nationalism, or possibly strong law & order proponents. If you agree with these people you can have good relationships. If you disagree with their strong values or beliefs, you will have strong arguments or possibly confrontations.

People on the lowest scoring of this value are often people not bound by “convention” to a specific philosophical dogma, religion, or political belief. These people might be seen as very flexible in seeing both sides of an issue and may appear to be very “Wishy-washy.” This ability to understand both sides may be taken as a weakness in character by a strongly opinionated “High Traditional” person. If you want these people to take a strong stand, and make a commitment to some proposal, you may have a disappointing expectation.

Neither a high score or a low score in this value, makes you right or wrong. Knowing yourself, or whether this is a factor in a person that you are in relationship with can make a huge difference in how to approach many situations in your life. Seeing things in a “black or white” way can be a good or bad (difficult) thing. For example, have you ever had a political conversation at a family gathering or a work or in a social situation where you feel an argument breaking out because people have conflicting understandings or strong beliefs? Words may not be as hard as stones but they can hurt people as badly, or even worse. Knowing why some people are inflexible and can not be convinced about certain points of view can help save you the grief of understanding why a polarized issue can not be accepted by both sides in a disagreement. This may also explain why the “hard feelings” about some political elections are not easily patched up.

If you know people who are “high Traditional” in values and are in the military, law enforcement, and people with strong “right of center” political beliefs, you may know that being flexible regarding other people’s opposing attitudes can be a “stretch” for these “high Traditional” people. Historically, many wars have been fought over different religious beliefs where flexibility and acceptance are not the values held by the opposing leaders. In my mind, too many people have died in disagreements over differing values and beliefs in religion, politics, nationalistic attitudes. There is no easy answer but remember hatred and fear regarding the differences in beliefs is taught to our next generation and does not solve problems in a world that is growing smaller as population grows and technology spreads differing beliefs instantaneously around the globe.

It is easier said than done when it comes to accepting different beliefs, but understanding how rigid or how flexible people are can be very important when you need groups to be productive.

Another definition: The highest interest for this value, Traditional, may be called “unity,” “order,” or “tradition.” Individuals with high scores in this value seek a system for living. This system can be found in such things as conservatism or any authority that has defined rules, regulations and principles for living.

Hopefully, this awareness of why people think and behave in “rigid” ways will assist you in accepting that it is easier and safer for some traditional people to hold tight to their black and white understanding even when this runs contrary to getting along better in a broader world.

Expectations Screw Things Up

Having expectations of other people’s performance can often lead to disappointment. Even a “sure thing,” when it comes true, can be a bit disappointing because you expected the outcome. Controlling your expectations is easier said than done, but worth the effort. I know people who celebrate their birthdays by basking in their unfulfilled expectations of what they anticipated from the people around themselves. The drama includes every manor of disappointment. Sometimes they did not get a card, or call, or present, or big enough present, or a large enough party, or…. the list can be endless…

Since we can not control what other people do, we can open ourselves for shattered expectations if we expect an outcome and the other person does not do what we might expect.

Have you ever had your expectation met and feel that it was not as satisfying as it could have been because you felt that you knew (or expected) the outcome? This turns a positive into a slightly negative experience. There may be times that you can recall when you did not expect an outcome and feel surprised and pleased by even a simple gesture, like getting flowers delivered “out of the blue.” Many people get disappointed when they travel or attend a performance where they knew exactly what was to be seen/heard and this experience did not surpass their expectations.

The interactions with people are the most difficult when you have expectations. For example, you thought you did well at the interview (or client meeting) and you find out you did not get the job (or order) that you expected you’d get. When you expect a certain recognition and it does not manifest in as grand a way as you would have liked, it often takes away from the celebration.

Expectations that are not met are stressful. We already have enough external stressors so why do we need more internally driven stressors? The lack of control over the actions, or inactions, of others is a traditionally strong stressor. Learning to control your expectations is not easy, however, breaking away from self-victimizing yourself can be a very important skill to develop. Also, appreciation of love and life is generally easier, and healthier, when expectations are not planted. Please consider living in the moment, without memories of the past or fears of the unknown future. Celebrate every moment of life for the experience you are receiving, even the difficult lessons we must bump up against. Visualize success in your activities but minimize your expectations… A difficult balancing act to achieve.