What Are You Good At?

Think about the last time you got annoyed with someone for not doing what you expected them to do? How did you deal with it? Did you get caught up in what the other person was doing wrong – ‘If only they hadn’t done ….’, or ‘If only they were better at ….’?  Did it really help or could there be a better way to turn things around?

When tensions are high it can be easy to focus on what we don’t like about the person we’re frustrated with. But what if you focused on their strengths – those things that they’re actually good at and enjoy doing – in these moments?  As hard as this sounds, could retraining our brains to look for and appreciate the strengths in others be a better way to resolve our differences?

Dr Tayyab Rashid from the University of Toronto suggests that focusing on people’s strengths is the best way for us to connect with each other. By leaving behind what’s wrong, and learning to look for what’s strong, Tayyab has found we can make a real difference in our lives and the lives of others. Find out how – even in a car jacking – looking for people’s strengths can improve our relationships in Tayyab’s TedX Talk.

What Will You Learn?

  • [3:51]   How asking the people who were carjacking him ‘What are you good at?’ changed the dynamics of the situation and left his car undamaged, credit cards intact and a new laptop in his car boot.
  • [5:46]    We regard strengths as inauthentic and only regard the symptoms of client’s deficits as authentic. We don’t need to dismiss negatives but we also need to look more for the positive, the positive emotions, engagement, meaning and purpose in people’s lives.
  • [10:55]  We can make beautiful connections with others when we focus on their strengths and positives.
  • [11:16] Flow is a positive experience of when we are so absorbed in the pursuit of an activity, that isn’t too easy or too difficult, that we lose track of time. We can use our strengths to cultivate segments of flow in our lives.
  • [13:11] Strengths don’t exist in an either or phenomena. We all have each of them to some degree, and that is what makes us human.
  • [14:31]  The context matters. If we treat our strengths as a hammer everything will look like a nail.   And sometimes they can help you, and sometimes they can hurt you. We need to use our wisdom and perspective about how our strengths are used in different contexts.
  • [15:00]  When juvenile delinquents are asked ‘What are they really good at?’ – it creates a dynamic bond where they are regarded as human beings first. People with goodness that others are interested in. Strengths are the best way to connect with each other.
  • [16:41]  By exploring what your strengths are, and exploring what others around you are good at your life will become more worth living.

What Can You Try?

  • Focus on your strengths – start by discovering your strengths by taking the free VIA Survey.  Mindfully developing a general awareness of your strengths, exploring ways you can use them each day, and applying them by setting goals and taking action, has been found to help you feel more engaged, confident and positive about your work.
  • Focus on other’ strengths – make a habit of looking for the strengths in others. Use your curiosity to ask them questions that will draw out what they’re good at and enjoy doing. Or look for moments where they’re more engaged, energized and excited about what they’re talking about or doing. For more ways to spot strengths check out these tips on spotting strengths  by Alex Linley from the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology. Try strengths spotting in your next challenging interaction with others and notice the difference it makes.

Want More?

 Check out Tayyad’s website.

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