Using Your Strengths in New Ways – 3

How to Use Your Top 5 Character Strengths in New Ways – Part 3. If you’ve just completed the VIA-IS online survey and are wondering what to do with your Top 5 Strengths, read on…

There’s increasing research to show that focusing on your strengths at work rather than on your weaknesses brings huge benefits, not just to yourself but also to your organisation. As mentioned in one of our previous posts, companies like Norwich Union are using strengths-based approaches successfully in the business, for example in recruitment. Other organisations are focusing on strengths for personal development, using them as the basis for the Annual Appraisal, for example. It gives employees a boost of confidence and really helps them feel good about themselves, in a way that leads to further performance improvements.

In the last couple of posts we’ve looked at new ways of applying strengths (from the VIA-IS online survey, not from the Clifton StrengthsFinder, which actually measures talents). Today we continue on this theme with six more strengths. Try picking one activity from one of your Top 5, and stick with it for a couple of weeks. If you find it isn’t working after a day or so, try something else.

LEADERSHIP:
i) Organise a social get-together for your team or department
ii) Go out of your way to make a new colleague feel welcome
iii) Take responsibility for an unpleasant task at work and make sure it gets done

GRATITUDE:
i) At the end of the day write down three things that went well
ii) Write and send a gratitude letter
iii) Keep track of how many times you say thank you during the day and increase the number every day for a week.

PERSPECTIVE / WISDOM:
i) Think of the wisest person you know and try to live one day as if you were them
ii) Resolve a dispute between two work colleagues, or two family members
iii) Don’t give advice unless asked, and then do so as thoughtfully as possible

FORGIVENESS:
i) Let a grudge go every day
ii) Write a forgiveness letter, do not send it, but read it every day for a week.
iii) When someone does something you don’t understand, stand in their shoes and try to work out their positive intention

TEAMWORK / CITIZENSHIP:
i) Pick up litter that you see on the ground
ii) Volunteer your time to a charity, community group, Parent-Teacher Association, Parish Council etc
iii) Organize a team / department dinner
iv) Act as a facilitator

BRAVERY:
i) Speak up for an unpopular idea in a group
ii) Stand up for someone even if you disagree with them
iii) Protest to the appropriate authorities about an injustice that you observe

These are just some examples of activities, you can of course adapt them to suit your circumstances.

We’d be delighted to hear your experience of using some of these activities in practice, or if you have any ideas for new ones, so please send us your comments.

We’ll cover the remaining 7 Character Strengths in future posts.

Thanks to Professor Jonathan Haidt , author of The Happiness Hypothesis, and the students in his psychology class at the University of Virginia and Chris Peterson for many of the suggested activities.

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