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AIM For Character Strengths, And Happiness

December 2, 2013 by ·

Lisa Sansom, chief positive interventionist with LVS Consulting, shares some tips for taking AIM on VIA character strengths in business.

In business and in life, focus on strengths to enhance productivity and happiness.


Let’s consider a couple of workplace scenarios. What would you do in each situation?

Situation 1:

A project that you have been assigned to gets a new Project Manager part-way through. The new PM starts off his first project meeting by stating, “This project needs a new plan, which I’m going to create with your input and then take to Steering Committee. I think we have been under-resourced, and I’m going to need a lot of detail from each of you in order to create this business case. So I’ll set up individual meetings with everyone around this table. Please make sure that your calendars are clear – this is a priority.”

Do you…

a)      Get stressed due to the change in leadership, and this new PM seems awfully dictatorial. You can see that this PM doesn’t really care about the people or the work that has been done so far.

b)      Relax, because this new PM seems to be working towards a successful project, and appears to be a strong leader with a consultative style.using character strengths for happiness

Situation 2:

An employee comes to you with a serious complaint about another co-worker. The employee feels like the co-worker has been shirking his responsibilities, again, and therefore is completely unreliable and puts deliverables at risk. The employee is very agitated and quite upset. This isn’t the first time that you’ve seen this employee get very emotional, and you haven’t seen any evidence that the co-worker is causing problems.

Do you…

a)      Inwardly dismiss the complaining, hand over a box of Kleenexes and think about what fake phone call you can rig up so that you don’t have to spend more than 5 minutes with this difficult employee.

b)      Appreciate that this employee came to talk with you. You can tell that the employee cares about doing a good job, and has taken the time to do the right thing – share concerns with you.


Of course, these examples and responses are polarizing, but chances are that your natural inclination would be to fall closer to one of these two options. You may either be taking a deficit-based approach where you see problems and concerns or you may be taking a strengths-based approach where you can appreciate what the other person is bringing to the table that is positive and good.

In the book Happiness by Ed Diener and his son, Robert Biswas-Diener, the authors propose that we take AIM on happiness. These three letters stand for Attention, Interpretation and Memory. While it’s a great acronym, this well-being enhancer doesn’t have to be limited to happiness. It’s a great way to approach character strengths as well, notably in the workplace.


Our most valuable resource may well be our attention. What do you want to focus your attention on: The problems and weaknesses, or the strengths and possibilities?


How do you interpret what is happening? Do you see the actions of this new Project Manager as dictatorial or taking charge? Do you see the actions of your employee as weak and complaining, or communicative and caring?


As you go home that evening after these encounters, what will you choose to remember? The new stress that was brought on by these conversations, or the comfort that comes from knowing that you work with good people who care about creating excellent outcomes?


It is our choice if we AIM ourselves on the strengths or the weaknesses of others in the workplace.

What do we gain when we AIM on the strengths? We create better relationships with others, because we see their potential and positive actions. We create less bad stress for ourselves, and we remain more open to possibilities and collaborative win-win solutions. We help to create better outcomes, which we can co-create with creativity and strengths-based solutions.

Sometimes, weaknesses are real, but often, it’s a product of how we view others and the way we choose to see the world. AIM on the strengths – it makes your workplace better, more productive and more fun for everyone.

Help Others Be Their Best!


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