Value

The first time I took notice of the term “value” was during my work in Japan when a department manager said something that stuck with me, although I can’t recall the exact words. It was something along the lines of: If a company cannot make a profit, it indicates that the company has no reason to exist and holds no value to society.

Initial Understanding of Value

My understanding of this concept deepened when I transitioned from a programmer to roles in sales and marketing. I began to grasp the essence of what my manager had said. If a business doesn’t focus on creating value for others or society, and instead engages in opportunistic and crafty practices, it will struggle to survive long-term. Whether in marketing or sales, the underlying principle is to provide value to your potential customers. Consider their challenges and difficulties, and think about how you can help them and what value and benefits you can bring to them (akin to what my foreign teacher referred to as Gap-selling).

B2B Value

A research institution once studied B2B value, breaking it down into dozens of elements, both subjective and objective. These elements form a pyramid model, where the higher the value, the more abstract and subjective it becomes, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. From the perspective of tangible and intangible, the higher the level of intangible elements, the stronger the impact they have on people.

Link: The B2B Elements of Value

Value in Romantic Relationships

Emotional Value
In interactions with different people, I often hear the term “emotional value.” It seems to be a significant consideration when people are looking for partners. Driven by curiosity, I looked up the term “emotional value” on GPT.

It generally means managing and understanding one’s emotions + responding to and understanding others’ emotions. The former relates to oneself, while the latter pertains to others and can be understood as the ability to empathize. In Japanese, it’s referred to as 空気を読む (reading the air), meaning you should know what to say and what not to say, understanding and responding to others. I find the former particularly challenging—understanding and controlling one’s emotions is not easy due to human nature.

Material Value
The saying “material base determines the superstructure” holds a lot of truth. If you cannot provide your partner with basic material value, many problems might arise, such as issues with internal and external security.

Besides material and emotional value, I believe there are many other types of value, such as moral value, physiological value, appreciation value (everyone has an aesthetic sense), and so on.

Value in Interpersonal Relationships

I often hear people boast about knowing many impressive individuals, with a tone of pride. However, from a personal perspective, if you cannot provide value to these impressive individuals, or if this value exchange is not reciprocal, such relationships will not last. It’s like playing sports with others—you prefer to engage with those of the same or slightly higher skill level; otherwise, it becomes boring. Unless the other person can provide other forms of value (e.g., economic value, appreciation value), you are less likely to interact with them.

This might also explain why childhood friends often drift apart as they grow up. I believe it’s because the value exchange between them becomes unequal. If both parties’ value remains relatively equal, such relationships can last longer, as they also have the added value of shared memories, irreplaceable experiences from the past.

Conclusion

I believe that whether it’s work, romantic relationships, interpersonal relationships, or any other kind of relationship, the underlying logic is the exchange of value. Only when the value exchange between both parties is roughly equal can the relationship be more enduring. How one perceives value—whether tangible or intangible—varies from person to person, adding an interesting dynamic to relationships.

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