Why Together?

Why should you articulate your strengths together?

(The ideas on this page are copied from page 3 of my 2009 book, Articulating Strengths Together (AST): An Interactive Process to Enhance Positivity. The references referred to in page are listed in a page listed in the Contents page of this site.)

        It is easy to say why you should articulate your strengths, but why should you include others in the process of articulating your strengths?  The reason is that your self-identity is mainly a function of your interactions with others. We all use other people as mirrors, to reflect views of ourselves. Humans are relational beings who construct their identities from feedback and observations coming from others. You are likely to consider the reactions and the opinions of others if you think they know something about you and if you believe they are capable of making accurate or valid observations.

        Also, you are likely to take some of your strengths for granted because they come so easily for you. You are so used to these particular strengths that you are hardly aware of them.  When others hear you describe something you did very well, they may immediately see the strengths that were involved, while you may have not noticed them, or possibly discounted them because they were so easy.

        Another benefit of having others recognize your strengths is that you may have not acknowledged some of your strengths because you felt like others would think you were bragging.  When others identify these positive qualities first, you can then modestly agree that maybe you do have those particular strengths.

        In other words, the observations or opinions of others are likely to be quite useful to you.  If you are like most people, you are always looking for information that will help you understand yourself a little better.  You are likely to appreciate that information if it comes from others.  This will especially be the case if the information is positive and judged to be valid.

        The number of people who are giving you the information may well be a factor influencing your judgments about the validity and reliability of the information you are getting.  This is why it is useful to have more than one person giving you information about yourself.  When at least three people, who have heard your stories of positive experiences, give you feedback that is coherent and repetitive, you are likely to pay more attention to the information than if you heard it from one or two.  It would be even better to have more people give you feedback, if there were time.  However, there is often a tradeoff between the time available and the value of variety and repetition in feedback. Four people sharing their experiences and receiving feedback from others appears to be an optimal number.

        Although the reactions you get from others are more powerful if they come from several people, reactions from one can also be very meaningful and useful. Because of this, you can also use the AST process with one, two or three people. While it is less likely to be as powerful, the basic interactive process can be used with fewer than four people.

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