Values are the core beliefs that guide people’s behaviors and interpretations of the world. We see the world through the prism of our own values, which function as an inner compass and help us determine what is right and wrong, especially in the absence of an external moral code. Without our values, we would be lost. And there would be no cultural, generational, or personal differences between people. Life would be a lot more homogeneous, predictable, and boring.
It would also be a lot simpler.
Many of the problems we have at work and in life come from having too much rather than too little diversity around values. As individualism (itself a meta-value) increases, cultural values become commoditized, personalized, and tribalized. We use values to make important “identity claims.” They signal our beliefs and affiliations to the world. Above all, we use them as a frame of reference to connect and develop relations with others at work and in other areas of life.
We like people who share our values because they provide external validation for how we define ourselves. Liking people who think and act like us is a discrete tactic to unleash our own narcissistic tendencies. It explains why managers often hire and promote on their own image, why couples look like each other, why friends and spouses become more alike as they spend more time together, and why dogs often look like their owners (this is not merely anecdotal).