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.

Are Relationships Stressful?

Most relationships require time and attention and this can prove stressful. For relationships to work, they require maintenance and energy. If these are in short supply then you can experience stress. The very nature of forming a good and healthy relationship is different for every person and every relationship. A secret that many people have to learn is about timing. An attractive relationship will not get off the ground unless the timing of attraction is good. As an example, think about any relationship you have pursued. If it worked out, both sides were available and ready. This is good timing. If only one side of the attraction is available, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, for it to work out.

Relationships have a wide range of possibilities. They can be romantic relationships or friendship relationships or business relationships or therapeutic relationships or possibly all of these. Most people require relationships at some point in their lives. Many people are raised without positive role models of healthy relationships and no matter how many TV shows or movies, or even books you read, you may not come across good relationship examples. Sometimes you have to use trial and error to figure this out and it is greatly complicated by the complex personalities of the people we attempt to have relationships with. By the way, relationships continue to evolve and change as the participants learn and grow. Your strong, but flexible, motivation may be a useful tool in maintaining relationships.

Some people are very traditional and have very strong inflexible values. Unless they hook up with the “right” situation in the first place, their relationship may prove difficult or fall apart over time. So knowing about yourself and your values can be a great start to developing stronger relationships. Controlling your expectations of changing your partner is a very useful consideration. If you do not like (and accept) the person in front of you but you see “real potential” then you may be doomed to the pain of watching their “unfilled potential” as they veer in a different than expected direction. “Expectations screw things up!” It is good to have a list of important qualities that you are seeking in a potential relationship before you begin to pursue the challenge of finding and then developing a relationship, especially if this is an important relationship for you. Ask yourself what you really need and do not accept less. What you want, may offer some flexibility.

A lasting relationship requires your loyalty and trust. If the timing is not right, one side or the other may move in directions that are less loyal and trustworthy. (And, “mid-life crisis” type personal changes can wreck certain relationships.)

Remember to take GOOD care of yourself. Because if your “light goes out” you run the risk of losing the attraction you have to your partner. It sometimes feels selfish to take care of yourself but this is essential to your own well-being, on many levels, and to your relationship. Continue your self exploration and growth. A healthy relationship can weather the storm your personal change and development may bring.

For many people in relationships good communication is hard work but necessary. Honesty with yourself and your partner, from the beginning, builds the best foundations for long term success.

Relationships can be the most stressful thing that you experience but they can also be the most rewarding. Ask most parents about their children. Without connection, shared love, and the deep bonding of relationships, most of us would not have the depth of purpose that create the most important lesson we have to learn from in this life.
Learn on….

If you require an assessment to learn more about your style or your values or your attitudes contact the Stress Education Center at to get the assessments and the coaching that can make you more successful. This can be used for personal relationships and is also very helpful with key teams and management groups.