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  • Writer's pictureWendy Hornung

Can Strengths Look Like Problems?

Every time I meet a CEO or a manager from a new company I hear about their communication frustrations with colleagues and employees.

I've noticed they all have ONE THING in common. Their strengths and other people's strengths look like problems.

At first, this idea seems really strange, but if you don't understand your "strengths in action" and the nuances of how you use them, you can be misunderstood by others, and feeling misunderstood bothers most people, a lot, even if it's for different reasons. For example: If your strength is "Deliberative" and you  give very detailed guidelines on how you want a job performed. You might hate being misunderstood because you give directives to other people and they don't get the job done the way you expected. A job that is full of sloppy errors would irritate you, when you spent time carefully planning the details. After all this is your strength. Your attention to detail is impeccable. 

Why doesn't everyone else care as much as you do? 

So you can see that, being Deliberative is invaluable. Holding everyone to the same standard when it comes to detail is not. It might be nice, but it also might get in the way for someone else who has a different strength. 

Take "Belief" as another example. If your strength is "Belief" you are motivated by a deep connection to your personal values. People with "Belief" get energized by getting things done that means a lot to them personally. They don't feel as motivated to take on things or act when the request is not furthering a cause or value that is close to their heart. How could anyone be any other way?

In the case of "Belief" when your values connect with a cause, you are unstoppable. However, you don't get fired up the same way if you don't personally connect with the job.

Both people, the one with Deliberative and the one with Belief have strengths that have personal value and can make huge contributions in a collaborative setting. But they both could look like problems to others, and can create problems for themselves if they are not aware.

Let's take the example above. To a person with "Belief" all details are not equally important. Details are very important if they relate to completing something that they believe is critical. However, a person with "Deliberative" is wired to pay attention to all details and look for potential problems that can be prevented. Someone with "Belief" knows that when problems arise, they will be solved, because they must! They trust the outcome because it began with a personal commitment. 

Both strengths lend themselves to getting the job done, and finding solutions, they just focus on "the how" at different stages of the project.

Understanding your "Strengths" is a positive way to learn where your talents make the most impact and where you are likely to lose others when you communicate. It also helps you if you know the strengths of the people around you. It's like having a heads up, on what to look out for.

When you listen to people, even if you don't know their strengths, ask them questions to see if you can figure out how they are approaching a project. In fact in this weeks, "Straight Up - Ask a Communication Coach #2" you can practice listening to the questions and think about what strengths are in Action, and how may they be working for or against the person who asked the question.

I will give you a hint! 

One of the people definitely has Consistency, a steady person who does not thrive on change, and the other has Positivity. If you get the chance to listen, think about how those qualities work for or against them in my video below. 

And if you want to order a strength test, you can purchase here, and I will send you a link to take the test!

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