There are 2 general levels to strengths-spotting: 1.) Spotting strengths in action in others and 2.) Spotting strengths in action in oneself.
This blog entry will focus on spotting strengths in others and a follow-up entry will focus on oneself.
In workshops I ask people which is easier to do. Overwhelming, people say it’s easier to spot strengths in others. Therefore, your relationships are a good place to start.
Here are 5 steps to improve your strengths-spotting ability.
1.) Build a language. First, you need to understand what you are looking for. Having a coherent strengths language will allow you to prime yourself on what to look for in others. The VIA Classification of 24 strengths provides a framework for building in a meaningful and systematic vocabulary.
2.) Fine tune your observation and listening skills. What do strengths look like in action? The idea here is to look for a shifts in energy, on both a verbal and a nonverbal level.
3.) Label and explain character strength behaviors. First, give the strengths that you spot a label; second, provide the rationale for how you saw the strength being expressed, and third, if appropriate, express appreciation for the person’s strength. For example:
4.) Build a habit by maintaining your strengths-spotting. Repeat the above phases through practice and more practice. Like any developing skill, observing for character strengths needs to become an ongoing practice for it to build. You might wish to deepen your skill of recognizing character strengths in action by keeping a log (mental or written) of behavioral expressions of character strengths.
At your next work meeting or family gathering, enter the environment wearing “strengths goggles.” This means walk in with a mindset to look for strengths as they occur. Spot your co-worker asking lots of questions (curiosity) or collaborating on a project (teamwork). Notice when your mother puts her arm around you when she speaks (love) or when your brother keeps the family entertained with a funny story (humor).
After you spot the strength(s), if the timing is right, tell the person how you value their strength use. Express your appreciation. Name the strength that you saw them use and share the rationale for your observation.
Interesting in learning more?
There’s still time to sign up for the VIA Institute’s flagship course on character strengths! You learn about research, practices, using strengths to deal with problems, strengths overuse, the golden mean, and much more. Click here.
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From Psych Central's website:
Strengths-Spotting Your Way to Happiness (Part 2 – Self) | Character Strengths (January 28, 2013)
5 Practices for Effective Strengths-Spotting (Part 2- Self) (February 1, 2013)
Last reviewed: 7 Jan 2013