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Do You Have Trouble Making Decisions?

I recently sat down with a client after she took the VIA Survey using my VIA professional link. I set-up the link so she did not receive her free Character Strengths Profile after completing the survey because I wanted to reveal her strengths to her in our session together. It ended up being a very eye-opening experience for her and for me as her coach! Discussing her strengths opened new opportunities for us to explore around decision-making. Here’s how the conversation went:

“That is it. That describes me!” said the young woman who discovered her highest character strength was critical thinking/judgment after taking the VIA Survey.

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, as it says here, it’s true, I’m very logic-based, I think about the evidence when I’m making decisions, I don’t jump to conclusions.”

“That makes sense from what I know about you. Do you see how judgment/critical thinking plays out in your daily life?”

“Of course. People tell me I’m always ‘in my head.’ I guess because I’m always thinking and analyzing things. It’s how I approach the world. A situation comes up and I go into logic mode and ask myself: what is realistic for this situation? I go to a meeting and I give a different point of view from what everyone else in the room is sharing. I get stuck in a difficult situation and I try to think my way out.”

“Does this strength cause any problems for you?” I wondered.

“Definitely. I can get so indecisive that I freeze up. I don’t know what to do.”

“How does freezing up relate to your judgment strength?”

“Because I use judgment to see all the possible scenarios and options. It’s as if every choice has not 2 but 22 different ways I could respond. My judgment helps me discern the best choice from these. I can usually narrow my choices down to a couple good options but then I just keep thinking and thinking: ‘What about this and what about that?’ I compile so much evidence and rationale for each side that I’m at a lost for which choice to take action with.”

“So what do you do?”

“Well, when I’m on my game, I choose one and go with it. I sort of just know what to do. When I’m not on my game, I sit there, frozen in indecisiveness.”

“When you are on your game and able to take action with a decision, which of your other character strengths do you think you are calling forth to support your judgment strength?”


“Take a look at this list of character strengths here. As these 24 strengths have been found in all human beings, they are all in you as well…some more strongly than others. Does any strength strike you as a collaborator to your judgment strength?”

“Ok, I see. I will say social intelligence. That helps me consider the emotional perspective of others in making tough decisions. And, it takes me out of the immediate scenario to then look at scenarios in other contexts involving other people to get further insight. But, if the decision I’m stuck on involves my immediate family, then I call forth my strength of love. And, I also ask myself: what’s right for others? What feels like would be best for them? There’s my kindness strength coming forth.

“Interesting, each of those three strengths fall under the virtue of humanity. The humanity virtue is all about connecting with others.”

“Definitely true for me. I value my connections with people. I try to offer something good for others as well as accept what they can offer me.”

“So, to summarize, it sounds like you can get really riddled with indecision. In those situations, your best bet is to turn to relationships – what you can do for others and which decision will be best in benefiting others. And it sounds like your social intelligence strength and your kindness and love strengths will help you get there. Is that right?”

“Yup, that’s me.”

“I want to mention that your strong tendency toward critical thinking and judgment is a wonderful strength – so very important. I hope you take time to really appreciate, maybe even celebrate, this quality within you. Clearly it has served you well in your life – helped you achieve many things, form relationships, and enjoy life. And, at times, our greatest strengths need some support. This is where it appears you can bring forth your “heart” strengths, such as love and kindness, to balance your mind strength of judgment.”

Comments about this dialogue

Labeling packs a powerful punch. Many of us are accomplished at labeling our bad qualities and problems but less accomplished when it comes to labeling what’s best in us. Labeling of the good (also known as “character strengths-spotting”) is a great starting point for working with strengths. This helps us understand and appreciate our inherent character strengths and, as seen in this dialogue, can help us in understanding our problems (e.g., indecisiveness).

  • Character strengths-spotting triggers us to…
    • See the good…
      • which leads to understanding the good…
        • which leads to being motivated to be the good…
          • which leads to acting good….
            • which leads to spreading the good…
              • which leads to a stronger society.

More from Dr. Ryan Niemiec and the VIA Institute on Character at

Do You Have Trouble Making Decisions?

Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D

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APA Reference
Niemiec, R. (2016). Do You Have Trouble Making Decisions?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Aug 2016
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