A few years ago, I was sat in my line manager’s office listening to another end of year appraisal session. It felt like every other appraisal – what were my goals? What do I need to show or do to achieve them? Where do I need to improve? Does this sound familiar?
How often do we sit and listen or feed back to people only focusing on their weaknesses instead of their strengths?
Our negativity bias guarantees a predominant focus on listening and remembering criticism but the interesting thing about human motivation is that we respond much more effectively to praise.
When we hear criticism, we become defensive and our barriers instantly shoot up, even if the criticism is small and the change required is insignificant, we still fight any notion of it. Our brain responds differently to praise, when we hear praise we are far more likely to take positive action and look to develop ourselves further.
Focusing on our strengths promotes confidence and the desire to keep improving.
We perceive more control over our lives and feel much more capable of identifying situations that would previously have worried us. It even makes us feel excited about the future, all because we can focus on and use our strengths.
A focus on my strengths in those appraisals would have enabled a far more positive and productive outcome rather than focusing on my weaknesses.It’s easy to fixate and ruminate about our weaknesses and ignore or forget our strengths. Research shows that those people who play to their strengths are more likely to feel happier, enjoy positive relationships with others, feel more fulfilled and reach their full potential.
The use of strengths in the workplace is connected to increased engagement, a sense of meaning and workplace performance. When something comes naturally and easily to us, we tend to shine. We’re more authentic, which helps to build more productive and trusting relationships with our peers.
How will you utilise your strengths on a daily basis?
You have already completed your strengths questionnaire and will now know your top 5 strengths. The key to this skill is to find ways to use them daily.
Do something resilient with this skill
1 Write down your top five strengths and place them around your work space so they are constantly within eye shot, to act as a reminder to listen and play to them every single day.
2 Share your top 5 strengths with those around you, especially your line manager and focus on developing and utilising these
3 Write down your team’s top 5 strengths and have them on show around the office so everyone knows each other’s.
Practice Makes Perfect
Next time you walk into an appraisal either yours or another’s, focus on their strengths and see what reaction you get from them!
Please note: This post was specifically written for people attending week five of our nine-week resilience programme where we showed you how to spot and use your top strengths in yourself and others for optimal performance and wellbeing.