“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

Voltaire

FIERCELY ALIVE: How Do You See?: 2.2.1

The Strengths Boomerang

If you took the VIA, (see You are Strong) I’ll bet nothing happened. Unless of course you reminded yourself of your strengths on a regular basis. If you did this, you may already be experiencing less stress and anxiety while enjoying an expanded sense of meaning, purpose, and confidence. According to the research of Creswel and Sherman as shared by Amy Cuddy in her book, Presence, simply affirming the best within ourselves, our most valued strengths, makes this possible. Try it out. During a challenging meeting, before a presentation, at the end of a long day, reflect on your signature strengths and notice what happens.

Affirming the best in others is similarly powerful.  With your new-found knowledge of who you are at your best, you will also become more adept at spotting strengths in others. In doing so, you help those around you realize a deeply-held need we all share — to be appreciated. Strengths spotting can happen anywhere with anyone (a partner, a child, and Uber driver) and may sound like this:

Sue, the creativity you used to pull our limited materials together to produce such an appealing presentation was amazing.

Mike, thank you for energizing the group with your zest as our energy began to wane.

Kim, in the midst of cutbacks it has been hard to look to the future, I so appreciate the perspective and hope you brought to our team to help them see what is possible.

Fluency with strengths spotting is deceptively simple relative to its outsized impact. When individuals are authentically and specifically appreciated, their positive emotions are elevated, leading to expanded psychological, social, and mental capacities. (See research in A Powerful Antecedent) People simply perform better on every level with the fuel of positive emotions. The impact of appreciation goes even further. It actually bolsters our health, resulting in less stress, better sleep, and less time required to recuperate from illness, according to Ron Friedman in The Best Place to Work

 

 

But strength spotting is also a gift we give ourselves. Somehow, when we extend ourselves to others, we become happier and enjoy all of the benefits that happiness brings. (See research in Happy and Well) According to Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage, those who actively appreciate and support others are 10 time more likely to be engaged in their work than people who are least likely to do so. They are also significantly happier and 40% more likely to be promoted.

Clearly, it’s easy to see the strengths of star employees, friends, and loved-ones, but if you cultivate the capacity to dig for strengths when they aren’t obvious, the results can be astounding. Get fierce about strengths-spotting and you might even make friends with a carjacker, as this extraordinary strengths spotter did. Check out the video here.

To see how strengths spotting impacts the most important factor in our well-being read here.