The purpose of this article is to provide one of the best ways I’ve found to use your talents to improve communication and relationships. It started with six simple words.
I sent an email to Terrie, one of my closest collaborators. I wanted her to evaluate web application that I thought could be useful for our youth program. So, I sent her an email with a link to the website and a note that said “Look this over and let me know what you think.”
Terrie was not convinced the web application would be useful. Instead of giving me her reasons for why she felt that way, she simply said “Help me see what you see.”
This prompted a powerful moment of self awareness about my themes, particularly my #1 theme of Strategic. It took me a few seconds to see how the web application would be useful, but it took me 20 minutes to type out an email to Terrie explaining my reasoning. It was much easier for me to just say “Hey, look this over and tell me what you think.”
This is what we need to understand about each of our top themes. Because of our dominant themes, we quickly interpret the world through their lenses. We make quick assessments that influence our feelings, thoughts and behaviors. These assessments are obvious to us, but not obvious to others.
We all have occasions where we draw conclusions only to discover that other people do not see what we see. It couldn’t be more obvious to someone with Achiever that we need to focus on work and get things done. It couldn’t be more obvious to someone with Harmony that we all should behave in ways that minimize tension. Someone with Futuristic can see the distant shores of an idea and can’t understand why others do not.
One of the incredible benefits of StrengthsFinder is that it helps us understand the way we see things and to realize that others do not see what we see. It can remind us that other people feel, think and behave in ways that make little sense to us, causing us to discount them.
Terrie’s advice can serve as a call to action for getting other people to understand each other better. We need to realize that others cannot see what we see, no matter how obvious to us those things may be. We perceive things through our own vantage points and do not consider whether others share that perspective.
This is not an unknown phenomenon. The word for the kinds of things that we just know is “tacit knowledge.” Tacit means understood without being spoken. You may understand something that’s so obvious to you, but until you actually speak it others may not understand. Making the things you know tacitly clear to others requires 1) the self awareness to slow down your thought process 2) the social awareness to realize that others may not interpret things the same way you to 3) the ability to bridge the gap through effective communication. This process is greatly enhanced with the use of StrengthsFinder.
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