At its core, StrengthsFinder is strongest as a relational tool. Backed by 50 years of research, it outlines the science as to why people intuitively behave in a certain way, unraveling the motivations behind a person's behavior.
For this reason, it can be incredibly powerful when used to facilitate conversations within families.
In Strengths School™, we facilitate strengths-based conversations to co-create rich and fruitful dialogues, which are often missed out in the hurriedness of work and life. After going through a session of Strengths-Based coaching by Strengths School™, the Lo family kindly agreed to do an interview with us and share their individual experiences of the StrengthsFinder family coaching session.
A short introduction of the Lo Family: James, the father of the household, is a businessman while Ai Ling, the mother, is a homemaker who has recently completed a post-graduate course in Counselling. The eldest child, Samantha, works as a manager while the middle child in the family, Chrystella (known affectionately by all of them as La), works as a counsellor. The youngest of the siblings, Jonathan, is looking to complete his degree in business this year. The family hopes that through this short interview, more families will be encouraged to understand each member's unique talents and experience a breakthrough in their relationships.
1) How did the session help you to know your family better?
James: I now learnt why Ai Ling is so insistent to do things or house work her ways. It’s attributed to her lenses and it’s helpful to understand her top 5. I also never knew that Jonathan has such a strong connection with his Harmony and Relator theme. I now know that his ability to form solid, mutually rewarding relationships are very important to him. I also learnt more about my 2 daughters: Sam is a very private person and that comes from her Deliberative theme. La will stop engaging during family discussions whenever she completes her own analysis of the issue at hand. That comes from her Analytical theme.
AL: I now understand why there are times that Jon and La "switch off" during family conversations. For Jon, who has Harmony, I did not know previously that he does not really enjoy listening to lengthy debates and discussions, and instead prefers discussing what we can do as a family together. For La, her Analytical enjoys analyzing different points of views and she is good at that. When there isn't any data to analyze, she switches off during the conversations. I also now understand why my husband with his Restorative theme often prescribes solutions that I don't feel I need. Understanding that now allows me to be more patient.
La: For me, the session was helpful to provide a platform where family members could reflect on and share their views on how they respond & behave with the family, and why. The session also provided a platform for us to give feedback to each other and discuss ways to support each other better in our interactions. An example for me was when we discussed why my brother would at times zone out during family discussions, and how we could involve him more productively.
Sam: The session helped me to reframe my family's idiosyncrasies as needs behind their talent themes. For example, Mom's impatience is actually a need for something to be done, and be done quickly. That is her Activator’s need. For La, her Analytical theme requires her to be mentally engaged. If she’s not, she tends to switch off during family discussions.
Jon: The session helped me to put into words the behaviours of my family members and to understand their personalities better. For example, I didn't know why sometimes La seemed uninterested. I used to think maybe she was just in a bad mood, but now I know it’s because of her Analytical theme.
2) What was something that stood out for you during the session?
James: I found it extremely helpful to do this exercise and to understand each other's viewpoints. The session, which was facilitated by an experienced coach, definitely help to open each other up and create the openness and ability to talk freely.
AL: Our talents need to be moderated to bring out the strengths of the other person so that it is beneficial to all in the family, otherwise love becomes loath.
Sam: Talking about how we experience our talents and how those talents sometimes may drive other family members crazy. The conversation made me realize the efforts that each member of my family has made to put aside their preferences to show love to the family. I realized that when I look back at the individuals we were years ago, we have come a long way in trying to "tame" the parts of our talents that annoy each other. Also, another thing that stood out was that everyone was trying to understand each other. There was the connecting of the dots - we were piecing together what we have observed of one another, with the new StrengthsFinder language we now have learned to describe each other.
La: What stood out to me were the insights between specific family member interactions, and certain patterns that I have observed in our family. Light was shed on the reasons for some of these observations.
Jon: What stood out to me through the conversation was how my family, especially my parents, actually observes a lot about each other. I didn't know that they as well as myself actually noticed so much.
3) What was one practical application you took away from the session?
James: For me, I will now refrain from providing solutions to any challenges my family members may have. I now realize that was from my Restorative theme. I will instead do my best to direct them and let them discover their own solutions instead of me quickly providing solutions to their challenges.
AL: I feel that I will not insist that things be done my way and get annoyed when certain things do not happen. Instead, I will clarify my needs as well as ask my family members for the rationale behind what they do or don't do.
Sam: I have now gained practical ways to engage La and Jon in our family conversations when they seem to switch off. Also, I’ve learnt that to use the StrengthsFinder language of another person's talents can be powerful in order to better communicate with them.
La: I think I could be more communicative to help meet the needs of my family members' talents, like my sister's Responsibility theme and my mother's Activator. I need to communicate that I will do the tasks they have asked of me, and try as much as possible to give a timeline. In that way, they will not feel I'm irresponsible or slow.
Jon: For me, I have learnt the importance of the need to understand how my family functions in order to show and appreciate their love in a greater measure.
Concluding Thoughts: Every family unit desires to grow in intimacy and love for one another. Using the StrengthsFinder tool, having Strengths-Based conversations allow family units to go deeper into understanding each person's unique perspectives and further build on the foundation of mutual respect. It is proven that just by having that deeper understanding of each other's perspectives alone can empower an individual to become more patient with family members. We believe that all families should consider using this tool to enhance and develop rich conversations.