When a parent wanted you to eat your vegetables, were you told something like, “Don’t you want to grow up big and strong?” Mine certainly did. We put a lot of emphasis on being strong — and for good reason. Being strong is as old as the biblical Samson. Being strong indicates we are healthy. Being strong means we have a shot at being Superman, Superwoman or simply super. Being strong while communicating says we get our point across.
Donald O. Clifton, a pioneer researcher who spent four decades studying strengths, and the honored father of Strengths-Based psychology, created the Clifton StrengthsFinder as leader of a group of Gallup scientists. Tom Rath documents the next generation of the concept and accompanying assessment in his blockbuster book, StrengthsFinder 2.0. As a huge advocate of working from strengths, one of my favorite parts (and there are quite a few!) is the notion that talent x investment = strengths.
Ah, so becoming strong and using our strengths well requires effort. We need to make an investment. Yes, we are born with innate abilities. And they need to be honed and seasoned if we want to keep them up there in the strengths department. If we intentionally exercise our muscles, don’t we get better? Our communication strengths are like that too. They need to be exercised.
Hmm, does that mean you should practice your listening skills 15 minutes a day with progressive reps until failure? Watch your nonverbal behavior in a mirror mounted at your desk during random conversations? Grunt when you have to concentrate really hard to get what someone is trying to tell you? Though those are fun visuals to imagine, we’re on a different wavelength here.
Click to read three things we can do to grow up (communicatively speaking) & make the most of our strengths on ManagingAmericans.
Sherri Petro, President and Chief Strategy Officer of VPI Strategies, represents VPI Strategies on the Expert Panel for Managing Americans. ManagingAmericans.com is a management blog with more than 300,000 monthly readers. Sherri contributes monthly to the Workplace Communication Skills Blog and is one of the most highly read columnists.