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You are 3 Steps Away from a Better Relationship

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.” 

Last night I had a dinner date with a friend. She arrived twenty minutes after our scheduled meeting time frustrated and frazzled. Her son, Ryan, had (once again) made her late because he didn’t have his stuff ready for soccer practice on time. I listened and sympathized as she vented about her constant battles with him to be more organized and manage his time more efficiently. Then, I asked one simple question, “Now, tell me something Ryan does really, really well.” She smiled and gave my hand an affectionate squeeze. She knew what I was doing and it didn’t take her long to reply: “he can always, always make me laugh.” 

Maintaining good, balanced relationships with your children, partner, co-workers and friends can be hard at times. When conflicts arise you might be tempted to concentrate solely on their shortcomings or weaknesses, which is not constructive or beneficial to the relationship. Here is a quick exercise to help you reframe your natural negativity bias and give your relationships a positive boost. 

Character Strengths Appreciation

For this exercise, we’ll focus on a parent-child relationship, but consider doing it across all domains, such as with your spouse, best friend and work colleague.  

Step 1: Spot Strengths

Review the VIA Classification and pull out 3 of your child’s best character strengths. What are the qualities that come most naturally to him/her?  In my story above, after prompting, my friend very quickly identified the strength of humor in her son. 

Step 2: Give Examples

Provide recent incidents when the child displayed the strengths. As you are thinking, be cognizant that oftentimes an array of strengths are being expressed. For instance, as my friend and I talked about her son’s humor I pointed out how Ryan’s strengths of perspective and curiosity seemed to fuel his clever, quick wit.

Step 3: Show Appreciation

Tell your child the strengths you notice and why you value those qualities. Explain why the strengths, that are core to him/her, are important to you.

I know this exercise didn’t fix the fact that Ryan was late for soccer and my friend was late for dinner, but she went home with a more loving, positive mindset than when she left, and sometimes that is half the battle.  

Has your child taken the VIA Youth Survey and gotten their Youth Decoder Report? It only takes 10 minutes and provides them with their rank order listing of strengths. Then, the Youth Decoder Report gives them tips and information on how to best utilize those strengths! Register or sign in here


Positive Relationships and Character Strengths Course

Don't stop with that one exercise! Get more strategies for nurturing your relationships or helping others improve theirs with our on-demand course, Positive Relationships and Character Strengths. Course leaders, Drs. Ryan Niemiec and Donna Mayerson, walk you through a 5-model framework for evaluating the way you communicate, show appreciation, resolve conflicts and grow with your loved ones. Register and get access to the course materials immediately with the flexibility to work through them at your own pace and on your own schedule. Learn more and register now




A Universal Language to Describe What's Best In Us

Dr. Ryan Niemiec presents at Tedx on how the VIA Classification is a common language to describe what is best in ourselves and others. He explains how work around character strengths can be compared to 4 levels of lights: the initial pilot light of awareness, a flicker of positivity when a strength is used, beam of light when the strength is noticed by others, and finally a full glow when the strength is appreciated. Watch Now.




Get the First Positive Psychology Field Guide for Practitioners  

Dr. Ryan Niemiec's new book, Character Strengths Interventions, is the epitome of positive psychology: it takes the “backbone” of positive psychology– character strengths – and builds a substantive bridge between the science and practice. Working with client’s (and our own) character strengths boosts well-being, fosters resilience, improves relationships, and creates strong, supportive cultures in our practices, classrooms, and organizations. No matter what kind of practitioner you are, this one-of-a-kind field-guide is a goldmine in science-based applications. You’ll be able to immediately bring the science of well-being into action! Get your copy here




Help Others Discover Their Strengths

Download this image to use on your website or blog. Link it to the VIA Registration Page or your unique VIA Professional Site for an easy way to discover your client's strengths.