Str- Relationship?


What is a Strengths-Focused Relationship?

       A strengths-focused-relationship (s-f-r) exists when two people interact with each other with an underlying agreement that each will be aware of the other person’s self-articulated strengths and often focus on these strengths during their interactions.

        Relationships that could be called strengths-focused-relationships (s-f-r) s often occur on an implicit level. That is to say, two people do not have to explicitly agree, by having an underlying agreement, to relate with each other while intentionally being aware of each other’s self-articulated strengths. This often happens naturally.  However, I (Jerald Forster) am proposing that most people would benefit from making it an intentional process, one that includes an agreement to be strengths-focused when relating with another person.

        In order to have an agreement about intending to have a strengths-focused-relationship (s-f-r), certain words or phases need more elaborate definitions.  For example, the definition in the first paragraph includes the phrase: each will be aware of the other person’s self-articulated strengths.  In that phrase, self-articulated strengths are important to the process being considered. To elaborate on the self-articulated part of this phrase, let me differentiate the self-articulated strength from an identified strength.  An identified strength might be one that a person learned about from another person’s observation or from an inventory of strengths. Strengths identified by others or from instruments designed to identify strengths may or may not yet be accepted by the person as being a meaningful description that the person “owns.” I am proposing that owned-strengths can be articulated during a self-exploratory and self-reflective process, such as is described in my book: Articulating Strengths Together (AST): An Interactive Process to Enhance Positivity.

        In a strengths-focused-relationship (s-f-r), the two interacting persons must try to understand the ways that the other party in the relationship thinks and feels about self.  This is difficult to do, because each of us has usually developed an opinion about the person we are relating with, and we use that opinion to represent the other person.  It is difficult to consider or be aware of how that other person thinks and feels about self.  But, to have an s-f-r, each party in the relationship must try to hear and understand how the other person thinks and feels about self.  This perspective could be called an empathic perspective, in that a person is trying to experience the other person much as that person experiences self, especially his or her self in terms of strengths.

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