What is Value Part Two – How High is Your ‘Stock’?
In the first post (Please make sure you read that article first) I discussed the concept of ‘value’ and touched on how we use this in our every day lives to prioritize our activities and spend our free time.
Example: a friend calls you to say he has at the last moment obtained tickets to a concert for a band you like but are not crazy about.
How much ‘value’ this offer has to you depends on many factors: price of the tickets, how many logistical challenges there will be to getting there, whether you have a better social option that night and if you have to be up early the next day.
I also touched on something briefly about how this concept of value relates to the different relationships we have in our lives. This can be one of those touchy subjects. Please read this at least twice and think about it a bit before commenting.
The Truth about Perceived Value
So here goes: Your ‘Value’ to other people is much like a stock on their ‘trading market’.
It can be stable at times yet also fluctuate wildly up and down, particularly in romantic and social relationships.
Same thing in reverse, you are a market much like the stock exchange and people in your life have different stocks whose value fluctuates
If you’ve ever had a great start to a new relationship/friendship be it romantic or a friend from the softball team but then later on it just seemed to fizzle for no reason, there is a very good chance it was because your value to them had dropped.
Understanding How Perceived Value Works
If you think about people whose company you really enjoyed once but know you are only motivated to connect with them on face book, again it’s because their perceived value has lowered in your eyes.
If a homeless person chastises you for not giving them money most likely you will not care too much.
YET If you forget to buy your spouse an anniversary gift and they get upset, chances are you will care a lot more about that.
Why? A homeless person, right, wrong or indifferent, just has little value to you. That might seem politically incorrect but this is just a reality of the human condition.
Sure there are other reasons. Things happen in life that force us to prioritize our time in such a way that even if we really value someones presence, we simply cannot stay in touch with them.
That is rather rare though. If something or someone is really important in your life, in most cases you will find a way to make time for them.
Think about it. Have you ever wondered why someones(such as a woman’s) attitude and treatment towards you changed?
If they don’t get back to you in a timely manner or not at all, if they seem more distracted when you speak to them etc… Often we look at surface reasons for this happening and typically what we hear are things like :
“Yeah she is in a new relationship and I guess just focused on that, I still see her at various social events” . OR…
“He just got a promotion and I guess he is busy with that, he is still a friend on face book though” OR my favorite:
“Well when we met he/she was in one place in their life and now they’re in another so we I guess we just are in different places”.
The reality is that yes, sometimes life circumstances do change but in most cases, if this happens it is because a person’s value, like yesterday’s newspaper has significantly dropped in the eyes of others.
It’s nothing to get upset or take too personally, it’s just important to understand the dynamics of the situation.
A Question to Contemplate
So a fundamental question to ask yourself is: “How much value do I have to this person (and vice verse) and what are the actual factors in creating that value?”
We have to realize that happens in all kinds of situations. Here is a true story which really illustrates this quite well:
I have a guy friend, we will call him “Tim” who thought he was close with this woman friend of his in another nearby town (Milwaukee) where he used to live for many years.
Even after he changed cities (moving to Chicago from Milwaukee) they would talk and he would periodically go there to see his friends and always include her in his plans – eventually his Milwaukee friends became her friends.
It was good timing for her, she had just gotten out of a difficult long term relationship and needed to make new friends. She also enjoyed visiting Chicago so on a few occasions (before she met her new boyfriend) she came visit him and to party.
In fact, one could argue he and her had a strong connection that while never romantic, felt very intense to him and to an uninformed outsider, seemed solid. Obviously, he had a crush on her as well leading to a symptom called “One-itis” which we will discuss in another post.
Now there were some things he had said and did that would make anyone perceive the guy in a negative way but at the end of the day, his value dropped in her eye’s for many, many reasons I will cover in a future blog.
He even brought it up a few times to which she replied something like “Yeah, I guess I should do a better job of staying in touch”. He even came to me once and said: ” I basically gave her an ultimatum that I will not continue to reach out to her if she is going to be so flaky”.
MY Difficult Advice to Tim:
To which I replied: “Would you care if a homeless person told you that they would not say hello to you anymore if you did not give them some money?” He did not like the analogy but eventually it started to resonate with him.
Sure part of it was the new boyfriend but she was always going out with Tim’s Milwaukee friends so it was not as if she just disappeared completely, only from his life.
He did not want to face it but the reality was that she was kind of using him to get access to his social circle in that former city.
In other words, his value to her was that he could get her access to new friends, new social opportunities and new fulfillment in her life. Again this was perfect timing for her after years of being in an unfulfilled relationship in which she had lost touch with most of her friends.
The Reality of the Situation:
You see as long as those new connections were still new and fragile for her, he had high value, once she had solidified them, he might as well as been a street beggar in her eyes. Sounds harsh but it was true.
And although he never realized it, he was more of a sounding board for her past and current relationship difficulties as opposed to someone whose friendship she really valued.
He also was good at being a platonic host so she could come to Chicago, party, flirt with other guys and not have any entanglements.
He still sees her when he visits those friends back in Milwaukee but there is no communication outside of that.
But I offered a different perspective constantly harping on this issue of value.
Eventually, he realized that rather than focusing on her friendship, It’s better to just address the flaws in his personality, learn from his mistakes and go make new friends always being aware of this value ‘dynamic’ as we might call it.
Conclusion: Prioritizing Value
I will also touch on the idea that perhaps assigning different value to the different relationships and people in our lives might actually be a good thing. That might seem counter intuitive or immoral, but it actually serves a larger purpose.
More to come on part three on what factors and qualities increase/decrease the value ‘dynamic”. As always, comments and insights are appreciated!!