Strengths Work Better Together, Research Says

By Dr. Ryan Niemiec

How many of your top strengths do you express at work? It’s a question worth asking, because scientists are saying it can really matter. Workplaces can be very demanding and stressful. It is not uncommon to hear the advice to “play to your strengths” or “use your strengths more at work.” Some individuals will take this recommendation and start using their teamwork strength more or start to apply their gratitude strength each day.

But is that enough?

New research suggests that the key idea is to use several of your best strengths in your work environment. Researchers have found that you are more likely to have positive experiences at work if you are using at least FOUR of your signature strengths. Those individuals who expressed less than four of their top strengths had less positive work experiences. Here’s how to put this new finding into action:

Unleashing the Power of Four (or More!) Strengths

1. Identify your top strengths. Take the VIA Survey online and receive free, immediate results.

2. Understand your top strengths. Examine the strengths that appear in your Top 7.

3. Reflect on your top strengths. Ask yourself: How many of these strengths am I regularly using during my work day? If you are using four or more, then commend yourself! You might consider how you can keep a daily awareness of this strengths use. If you are using zero to three of your top strengths, start by adding in one more strength. Find a way to use one of your top strengths in a new way. Brainstorm with your supervisor, journal about ways you’ve used your strengths at work in the past, and ask others to give you examples of when they’ve seen you express each of your top strengths.

References

Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012): When the job is a calling: The role of applying one’s signature strengths at work. Journal of Positive Psychology. DOI:10.1080/17439760.2012.702784

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