“Character Strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave and are the keys to you being your best self.” – VIA Character Institute
Strength spotting is a process through which we develop our ability to identify these character strengths, we can find these within ourselves or in the people around us.
Strength spotting can take place in a variety of ways, and usually consists of developing our understanding of strengths and honing in our attention towards identifying strengths in ourselves and others.
While we can practice strength spotting in our daily lives, there are certain exercises which can assist and encourage us in directing our attention.
A strength interview is one such method, where specific questions can be asked which trigger the other person to respond about their strengths.
Strengths can be found directly, through a process where a person identifies their strengths or indirectly where their body language, voice tone, rhythm of speech, eye contact and descriptions reveal their strengths.
Practical Advice for Strength Spotters
When conducting a strength interview it is important to allow painful experiences and problems to arise, as through this process the other person can feel accepted with their negative emotions and are more likely to share their strengths at a later point.
People often find talking about their strengths uncomfortable as they may feel they should be modest with regards to these areas of themselves. It is important to remind them that everyone has strengths and it is not arrogant or boastful to identify and discuss theirs.
Through becoming aware of verbal and non verbal cues you can quickly discern strengths in conversations. Examples of these cues include voice tone and speed, positive descriptors, posture and eye contact.
You can become a strength spotter by starting to recognise these positive expressions in your daily life.
Every individual has their own unique way of expressing their combination of strengths. As such, it is imperative to maintain an open mind and attentive attitude when learning to strength spot as it will enable you to see their strengths within their context.
Finally, when understanding the complexities of each person’s strengths it is important to acknowledge discrepancies which arise between strength use with the self versus that which is elicited with the other. Hugo Alberts, Co-Founder of Positive Psychology Program describes his personal experience of this:
“Many of my clients are kind to other people, forgiving and compassionate when their loved ones fail. Interestingly, these strengths can be shockingly absent when considering how they treat themselves when things go wrong. Making people aware of the discrepancy that can exist between how strengths are used with others and with the self, can be a very important step for cultivating a better relationship with the self. In addition, it also helps to promote more balanced strength use.”
In conclusion, strength spotting can offer you the opportunity to hone in your attention on the strengths of yourself and others. In order to do so it is vital that you have a strong knowledge of character strength theory. For more information on the VIA characters strengths and its history you can visit their website, alternatively check out our article on the classification of character strengths.
Biswas-Diener, R. (2009). Using Strengths-Based Interventions in Coaching and Therapy. In: Burns.G.W. (ed.) Happiness, Healing, Enhancement. Your Casebook Collection for Applying Positive Psychology in Therapy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Weber, M., & Ruch, W. (2012). The role of a good character in 12-year-old school children: Do character strengths matter in the classroom? Child Indicators Research, 5, 317-334.