Values Elicitation

Values Elicitation

In a recent Naturopathic Note, I spoke of a process using a Values Elicitation Technique. I have since been asked to give another example of its use. So here it is.

Like the previous one, it comes from my time in Sydney in general practice, before I specialised in cancer support.

Valerie had an interesting and responsible job in the banking world. She enjoyed her job and the bank she was in, but recently she had wondered if she should move on. She had interviews at two other banks, both of which had offered her jobs. I congratulated her and wondered what the problem was.

She explained that both positions had advantages over her present position including more pay, more seniority, a move along in her profession. At least one would mean a much shorter commute to work.  The trouble was she couldn’t decide which one to accept, or whether to stay where she was.

“I keep making lists of pros and cons and marking off the good points of each, then counting up the number of points however I still don’t feel comfortable choosing the one that scored the best. Obviously, it should be one of the banks that have head-hunted me, they both offer more money and better career opportunities. I’ve tried giving more points to important features, such as salary but I still can’t decide.“

So we settled down. I asked her to list for me everything in relation to her work, career and her working life, in general, that was important to her, stressing that she should give the list to me in no particular order, but just as each item occurred to her. When she gave me the list, I numbered the items.

Then I ran the process:

“Is number 1 more important than number 2?” etc.  Then when number 5 turned out to be more important than No 1, I moved on to the next stage.

“Is number 5 more important than number 6?”

Eventually, I came up with her list of priorities.

Then I asked her to draw columns, headed by each of the banks. Working from the top down, she was to divide a reducing number of points between each of them, row by row. When she added up the three totals she was amazed to find that the bank that scored the most was the one in which she was currently working.

“How do you feel about that?” I asked her. “I’m amazed!  It feels really good. I guess I kind of knew that I liked my present job but it seemed stupid to turn down both of these amazing offers.  This conclusion seems nonsensical in some ways, but I know there are, in fact, logical reasons for staying put. I think if I hadn’t done this exercise I could have gone on thrashing out the possibilities endlessly, and would probably then, have opted for one of the new banks. I can now see that if I hadn’t done this exercise, that I would have regretted it later, and I can see why.”

*We will be holding a workshop on ‘Values Elicitation’ on Saturday, 23rd March in Sloane Square. This is open to everyone!  For more information or to reserve your place, please email

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