Putting Your Strengths to Use
Engaging one’s strength at work has surprising benefits for personal well-being and also productivity (Haszer & Ruch, 2015). Our strengths are salient aspects of who we are, showing themselves in our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in various contexts. Additionally, capitalizing on our strengths at work can support us in achieving positive outcomes in the workplace (Quinlan, Swain, & Vella-Brodrick, 2012).
How might we do so? Here are three examples of strength-based interventions that you can use, as suggested by Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson (2005):
1. Three Good Things in Life. List three things (events, situations, etc.) that went well each day every night for a week. Explain the causes for each good thing and how it made you feel.
2. You at Your Best. Write down a time when you were at your best. For instance, you can describe when you performed extremely well or handled a situation successfully. Next, identify the strengths that were at play. Once completed, review the story once every day for a week focusing on those specific strengths.
3. Using Signature Strengths in a New Way. Begin by taking an online character strength inventory, such as the VIA survey (http://www.viacharacter.org/www/The-Survey). This will provide feedback on your top five signature strengths. Be mindful of your signature strengths and try to intentionally put one or several to use in a novel and different way each day for one week. The point is to integrate the strengths into daily tasks and activities at work so you can build upon them.
When researchers evaluated the effectiveness of these exercises, participants showed an increase in happiness and various other positive outcomes after just a week (Quinlan et al., 2012; Seligman et al., 2005). However, to experience sustained benefits, you can increase the practice period beyond one week. Furthermore, undergoing training and/or coaching can support individuals in their ongoing growth and development while keeping them on track and holding them accountable with these exercises in order to maximize the benefits of knowing their strengths (Haszer & Ruch, 2015).
Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2015). Your strengths are calling: Preliminary results of a web-based strengths intervention to increase calling. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1 – 10. doi: DOI 10.1007/s10902-015-9692-y
Quinlan, D., Swain, N., & Vella-Brodrick, D.A. (2012). Character strengths interventions: Building on what we know for improved outcomes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 1145 – 1163. doi: 10.1007/s10902-011-9311-5
Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410
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