Conduct a Strengths Interview

    Select someone with whom you’re in a close relationship. Interview them from a strengths perspective. If it feels a bit awkward to do or you don’t know how to start, try saying something like this: I am spending some time focusing on what is strongest in myself and in the people I care about. Part of this is learning to take a strengths-based approach. I would like to practice this by learning more about your best qualities and how they connect with who you are, as well as with your past successes. Would you be willing to explore this with me? When ready, move into some specific questions, either the following ones to use as a guide or questions you create on your own: • What are your highest strengths, your signature strengths? (If the person has not taken the VIA Survey, then show them the list of the 24 strengths and have them select a few.) • Tell me about a recent time when you were at your best or when you felt relly connected. What was that like? What character strengths played a role in this experience? • What character strengths are most closely linked with your life successes? Which are used most in your relationships? • When you consider our relationship, what are the elements that make it strong? • When do you feel most “seen” and appreciated? When do you feel you can really be yourself? • Which character strengths would you like to use more in our relationship? Which would you like me to use more? • Tell me about a stressor or difficult situation that you successfully resolved. What character strengths did you use to resolve it?
    Who did you interview? What was it like to take a strengths approach with this person? What character strengths did you notice and hear (even if not directly named) in their responses? What did you notice in the person during the interview? Did your questions and your focus on strengths reveal different emotional reactions, new insights, or surprises? Can you carry some elements of this strengths-based conversation with you when you interact in the future with this person? Can you transfer some insights to your relationships with other people? Identify those elements/insights here:
    Appreciating and Accepting Once we have a deeper sense of who the person is that we’re relating to, we come to more fully appreciate them and accept them for who they are. The challenge is to then express this appreciation. How might you convey how much you value this person? Todd Kashdan, a professor at George Mason University, and his colleagues (2017) found that relationship partners who recognize and appreciate each other’s character strengths also experience greater commitment to the relationship and feel their needs are being met (such as the need for belonging and for autonomy). In addition, the couples had greater relationship satisfaction, reported higher sexual satisfaction, and felt their goals in life were being supported. Conversely, they found the opposite to be true as well: relationship dissatisfaction was found to be connected to partners viewing each other’s character strengths unfavorably, as having a “cost” attached to them—for example, overuse of strengths or strengths seen to be adversely affecting the other in some way. Take the Partner Strengths Questionnaire You can take an abbreviated version of the Kashdan study’s Partner Strengths Questionnaire here. This tool was created for intimate relationship partners to explore and appreciate the other’s character strengths, but you can use it to examine any of your close relationships. Name of the person you’re assessing with this questionnaire: Name one of the character strengths that most accurately reflects this person. As you think about this person, what is most central to who they are, what lies at their core? The use of what strength seems to energize and excite them? Character strength #1: Describe a recent situation (that you witnessed or just heard about) in which this person used this strength: For the rest of the questions about this relationship partner, use the following scale: Not at all Somewhat Extremely 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 STRENGTH USE AND EFFECTIVENESS To the best of your knowledge, how often does your partner use this strength in a typical week? How effective is your partner at using this strength? In other words, how well do they perform activities that rely on this strength? Total score for use/effectiveness STRENGTH APPRECIATION How important is it to you that this person uses this strength? Do you find yourself more committed to the relationship when you see this person using this strength? Are you more satisfied with your relationship after seeing this person use this strength? Total score for appreciation COSTS OF THE STRENGTH Does this person’s strength end up causing any problems or conflict in your relationship? How difficult or demanding is it for this person to use this strength? After using this strength, how drained does this person feel? Total score for costs Higher scores on strengths use/effectiveness and strengths appreciation reveal greater understanding and appreciation of this person’s character strengths. Be sure to let them know your appreciation! A higher score on strengths costs reflects a greater potential for strengths
    overuse, which may contribute to stress or conflict in the relationship. It’s important to mutually explore this with your partner. Strengths Appreciation in a Close Relationship Now that you’re expanding your awareness of your appreciation and acceptance of the character strengths of someone important in your life, it’s time to take some action with that person! You can download this activity at for ongoing use in your strengths practice. 1. Choose one of your close relationships and identify three of the person’s best character strengths. Strength #1: Strength #2: Strength #3: 2. Recall a recent incident in which the person admirably displayed each of these strengths. How did you see the strength expressed?
    Express appreciation. Share with the person what you wrote, explaining why their character strengths use is important to you and valued by you. For example, it may make you feel more emotionally attracted to them, more committed in the relationship, or happier when you are around them. Appreciation can also be expressed nonverbally. How will you express appreciation to this person?
    Nurturing When I was on a weeklong meditation retreat in upstate New York, one of the activities we participated in was mindful speaking and mindful listening within a small group. Each person shared from their experiences whatever they wished to say—the struggles, the positives, and anything in between. When it was my turn, I shared that I was bothered by some of the ways my wife and I interact. The group leader—typically silent and simply allowing each person to talk—turned to me and asked if I’ve practiced “secret watering.” She explained that this meant to “water the seeds” of my wife, without strategy or plan, without needing something in return, and without her knowing that I was following a “technique.” In other words, point out and encourage her best qualities, champion her for those qualities, love her for them, and create an environment that allows her to express them. Water her seeds of strength. This has proven to be a productive approach for me and many others who study mindfulness and character strengths (Niemiec 2014).
    This is also what is meant by the element of nurturing. As researcher Kelly McGonigal (2015) has explained, the caring and helping of others triggers our “biology” of courage and hope. Our use of compassion opens up other strengths in a deep way
    Wadifa Club
    writer and blogger, founder of Dog food planet .

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