What About the Skeptics?

strengthsfinder Aug 03, 2018

Not everyone immediately welcomes the insights from the CliftonStrengths©. There are skeptics. I have learned to welcome them because their resistance hones my ability to articulate a compelling message. I’ve written about this in the past too. Here, I offer some excerpts from an article from Gallup’s blog called “Embrace the Skeptics” by Jennifer Robison. In the article we talk about how I address skepticism with clients because there’s always going to be somebody in the room who’s just like, “This assessment can’t tell me who I am. I don’t need this touchy-feely stuff.”

“According to Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Adam Seaman, skeptics can provide an important service to strengths coaches. “I welcome skeptics,” he says. “I want people to raise questions, and I consider it my job to make the case for why CliftonStrengths is such a valuable and potent tool. If I can get [a skeptic] over the hump, then I can be confident that less-skeptical participants are also getting value.” 

Skeptics push coaches to dig deep. Hard questions require thoughtful answers, and thoughtful answers explain strengths. Winning over the toughest member of the audience is an effective way to convince everyone else. Furthermore, it’s likely that some or all workshop participants will have questions, even doubts, about what they’re learning. A skeptic will voice those doubts, offering the coach an opportunity to address them. 

“I refer to the Gallup Technical report for anyone who wants to understand the details of how it was created, its validity, and what it measures,” says Seaman. “Of course, most people in a group don't need all this, but I want to pre-empt any of the workshop participants who might derail the group.” If the coach can effectively address the skeptics’ concerns, then they’ll be satisfied. Even better, having put to rest any lingering doubts, all the participants are more likely to listen, remember and use what they learn. A reformed skeptic can often be the greatest advocate.

Seaman once conducted a workshop for airplane pilots and mechanics who clearly didn’t want to be there. He had their Signature Theme Reports before the workshop began and as they filtered into the room, Seaman watched to see which of them appeared to be the “alpha,” the one the others deferred to. That participant happened to be quite outspokenly unconvinced. So Seaman used him as an example. With the man’s Signature Themes in hand, Seaman told him things about himself that rang profoundly true. “The alpha guy beamed with pride as I described my hypotheses at the things that mattered to him,” Seaman says. “As I was doing this, the other guys would make comments like, ‘That's so true!’ or tell a quick story that exemplified my observation.” Afterward, the group’s manager, whom Seaman calls the greatest skeptic of them all, emailed Seaman to thank him and say he intended to use Clifton the CliftonStrengths© in his employee evaluations.

It’s worth noting, some workshop participants may not actually be skeptical. Some are likely motivated by their innate talents, like Analytical, Learner or Intellection, themes that drive them to ask questions until their curiosity is satisfied. Such participants may not be oppositional, simply hungry to understand. Strengths coaches can use that to explain in real time and in real life how such themes compel people to seek answers.

Of course, those participants may also just be skeptics. Some people simply don’t see the validity or usefulness of Clifton the CliftonStrengths©. Those people can either be a thorn in a strengths coach’s side or a valuable teaching assistant. “When a skeptic can be brought into partnership, it really makes the workshop a better experience for everyone,” Seaman says. “Embrace the skeptics. They can really help you, and everyone else in the workshop.’”

I think the world needs this, and in order for that to happen, we need coaches who can articulate the principles and make it apply to people and overcome the skepticism, and make people excited about it as I am, as we are. One of the points here is the CliftonStrengths© is confusing. It’s called “Strengths” “Finder” so obviously, we might assume, the results must be your strengths. When the truth is that it’s about identifying your talents as a key ingredient to finding a strength.

“What do I do with this?” Is a question people are always asking. You might have encountered this question, or asked it yourself. The beauty of the philosophy gets lost yet the world would just be a better place if more people had this. This confusion is partly due to Gallup, it’s partly due to the coaches, and it’s partly due to the clients. I want to clear up as much of that confusion and I sometimes feel like it’s an uphill battle to clear it up.

The good news is that Gallup has a goal of one billion people completing the CliftonStrengths©, and they are currently almost at almost 16 million. That means 984 million people will still be taking the CliftonStrengths© . It is so early in the game. There will be others doing something similar to what I’m doing, creating their approach or their brand of dealing with the CliftonStrengths© , and I want is to strive for the best possible approach by developing the reputation as being “true believers” in the the CliftonStrengths© and having the finest quality of materials and coaches. That’s all I care about really. Market success will come if we can convey this information effectively. My #1 focus is on doing it right and everything else will follow.

Though I haven’t heard an estimated date by which Gallup wants to reach a billion people, I do have the following data of showing the progression of people who have taken the the CliftonStrengths© from 2002 through 2015:

In 2002 not even 250,000 people had taken the CliftonStrengths© . In 2003 it moved up to around 300,000. This is the year Don Clifton passed away by the way. As you can see, each year more and more people take it. It’s rapidly increasing, in large part because there are a lot more coaches out there. Around 2012 is when Gallup started certifying coaches, and their goal is to have one million certified coaches (It’s currently at around 2600). In order to reach one billion people to take the CliftonStrengths©, they need one million coaches.

The reach of the CliftonStrengths© is accelerating, each new million happens way faster than the one before. The first million took seven years. Then the next million just took another year, and almost two million have taken it in 2015, so it’s just accelerating and growing.

A lot of people are coming to the CliftonStrengths© because they see it as a business opportunity, they see dollar signs, and there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s absolutely fine, but I want to make sure that what drives me and what ultimately drives you, is the passion for helping people get the most out of the the CliftonStrengths© because it improves their quality of life. I believe that the market will reward people who do the CliftonStrengths© well.

 

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