If you know me at all, you may not be surprised that judgment, perspective and honesty are among my five strongest character strengths, based on a self-assessment I went through after listening to author and executive coach Fatima Doman’s keynote presentation at the Presence Summit this week.
I’d like to think you see those three characteristics come through loud and clear through my work on this website and in our monthly magazine, since I do pride myself on being able to tell both sides of important stories and have tried to do so since I started my writing career 25 years ago.
Those who know me really well, though, could probably guess that my top five character strengths are rounded out by honesty and humor. I’ve never been shy with expressing my opinion, even if it runs contrary to conventional wisdom and my dry sense of humor can mount a sneak attack at any time.
I’m not typically the type who buys into these sorts of psychological character examinations nor do I like to apply sweeping generalizations about what having certain traits means about a particular person. I’ve always believed that everyone is an individual and tried to judge people for how I interact with them.
But I must admit to being somewhat amazed at how dead-on this particular self-assessment of my five top strengths, five lesser strengths (weaknesses) and middle 14 characteristics is. Then again, maybe part of that is the fact I was the one answer the 96 questions that created the assessment.
Using Character Strengths to Resolve Conflict
Doman talked in her Presence Summit keynote about how our character strengths factor into our ability to have authentic communication. People who follow what Doman calls the four A’s will be better able to have deeper, richer and more meaningful interactions with others.
You should appreciate the strengths in other people, even or perhaps especially if those strengths are different than your own, assess the other person’s strengths and seek to understand each other, assert by sharing your feelings and emotions, and ask respectfully about your demands to create solutions.
“It’s truly to our benefit to turn a clash of strengths into a collaboration,” said Doman in her keynote. Rather than focus on clashes of strengths, people should instead move from problem-focused questions when interacting with others to solution-focused questions.
Business leaders are traditionally always focused on solving problems as quickly as possible, but often the best way to solve problems is to think more about potential solutions rather than focusing on and thinking more about the problem itself.
If you haven’t already taken Doman’s character strength assessment, you probably should check it out. It might help you resolve issues within your own walls and with your customers more quickly and more effectively. At the very worst, it might confirm what you already know about yourself.