In Strengths School™, we found a pair of siblings who discovered they both had the same top 5 themes after they had completed their Strengthsfinder assessment. What is even more astonishing is that both of them had all 5 of their themes in the Relationship Domain, a rare combination of strengths found in the world.
While each person is unique and different, as researchers we were curious to discover how people who are very relational think and behave. We decided to interview and speak to this pair of siblings, Angeline and Pamela Ngui, who are 4 years apart.
1) What was your reaction when you realized that your Top 5 Strengthsfinder themes were all from the Relationship Building domain?
A: I felt quite concerned. "Why do all my strengths fall into the blue category?" "Am I a loser in all the other domains?" "Is this normal?" I was quite disappointed, I guess. My strengths didn’t sound that special to me - “Positivity is a strength? All that’s saying is that I’m good at being an optimist.” “Empathy? Anyone can have empathy. It’s hardwired into us!”
But it’s alright. After learning more about what my strengths are actually about, I grew to be more comfortable with identifying with them. It’s always interesting to realize how I can link my behaviours and attitudes to the themes I have. (I have yet to unlock the rest of my Strengthsfinder themes, and I'm curious to find out what my top non-blue strength will be)!
P: I was surprised! I didn't see these 5 as strengths before, but I thought it was so cool that I could relate to everything the Strengthsfinder report said!
Honestly, I used to feel like I didn’t really have the strengths that would help me excel, because I would see other themes like Discipline, Responsibility and Communication as strengths that were valued highly, especially in the Singaporean schools. I felt that I lacked a lot in these areas. But I started to realize that my strengths were more than what the world would value. Discovering that my top 5 Strengthsfinder themes were all in the Relationship Building domain has helped me to understand myself a lot better!
2) Which of your Top 5 are you most proud of? Why?
A: I am most proud of my Includer theme. I like that I can usually read social situations to identify the people who could be feeling a bit left out in a group. When I can do something to make that person feel slightly more comfortable, it feels great. I realized it’s something I’ve always felt strongly about. I like how Gallup puts it - “[Your accepting nature] rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important; thus, no one should be ignored.”
I think this extends to my attitude toward a lot of other things in life, like being receptive to new things or ideas and not being closed-minded or inflexible. I take pride in being approachable like that.
P: I'm proud of Positivity because I'm able to encourage people! I enjoy being able to uncover the potential in people and to see the value in people and things. It brings me joy seeing others happy and fulfilled. I feel that Positivity allows me to appreciate and celebrate the small things in life and to be able to share with others this kind of joy too!
Having Positivity also encourages me to go on when things get challenging! It gives me the mind-set that it will be alright if I try. Having the Positivity theme allows me to see the positive outcomes that can come from the challenges I face. Having Positivity pushes me to improve and try new things.
3) What are some of the words that your friends have used to describe you?
A: “You’re good at listening”, “You make people feel appreciated”, “You’re really supportive” - these are some of the things my close friends have said to me.
P: Friendly, patient and kind. I think people say that I'm friendly because I enjoy meeting new people and finding out more about them. I find it exciting to learn more about other people. I think my friends say I'm patient and kind because I like to help others and be there for them. I enjoy listening and spending time with people. I’m someone who would readily help people because I find joy in doing so. Seeing others encouraged and happy makes me feel happy as well.
4) Complete the sentence. Friendship to me is like_________
A: taking redbull? Being around people I like energizes me even when I’m dead tired. Friendship to me is also like warming up in a blanket after being rescued from drowning (in loneliness).
P: a treasure chest? Digging up the treasure chest is like starting a friendship – it requires effort. You discover something precious when you continue digging until you find the treasure. And there is something different in each treasure chest. I find friendships precious because I feel that everyone is unique and each friendship allows me to explore more about each person. But friendship also requires effort on both parts - they rely on you for backup just as you depend on them for help. Friends are also there for you to help you grow and to be there for you when you need them. Without the friends who've guided me throughout my life, I wouldn't be close to where I am today. As such, I cherish my friendships greatly.
5) How did your top 5 themes help you to excel in school? Give a few examples.
A: I think having Adaptability helps me a lot in school work. There have been too many times when I was working on an important project and a spanner would be thrown into the works -- sometimes at crucial moments. I find that I usually don't get stressed about the change in plans, but I'm able to focus on what needs to be done next. This has helped me stay cool-headed when everyone around me was panicking!
P: I just graduated from junior college. During that period, it was extremely stressful. But I think my Positivity theme helped me to go on with the positive mind-set that "I can do it if I try." It spurred me on to work harder to achieve my goals. Every time I was met with a setback, I would tell myself that I just had to try harder. I also saw studying as something enjoyable instead of how I used to see it - as a chore. I felt I could learn so much more from studying too - learning to be more disciplined, to plan my time well.
My other themes like Includer, Developer and Empathy, made me want to look out for my friends and help them too. I always liked to help my friends with anything that they needed help in. That encouraged me to study harder to know my subjects well so I could also teach my friends and impart to them the stuff I knew.
6) Using your Top 5, describe the kind of leader you think you are.
A: I don’t know how to command a room’s attention, or put up overt displays of dominance, or the other things that people think leaders typically do. I’d much prefer being on the ground, influencing people through my relationships with them. I think I would be quite invested in each person’s progress, wanting to give advice on how to do things in the most efficient manner, or discussing the best way to go about our tasks. With every person, I also try my best to listen to them intently and make sure I’m fully present, so as to appreciate them in that way.
P: I think I'm a leader who would look out for the needs of the people first - to make sure that everyone is doing alright. I feel that it’s important that no one is left out and that everyone’s voice is heard. And I enjoy hearing the different perspectives from people.
I like getting to know each individual personally too because I find every person unique. I feel that knowing your team members is important as you learn how the people feel and begin to see things from their perspectives rather than only from a leader’s perspective. Knowing the people, I feel like I’m able to see the potential in them and try to bring that out in them.
7) What were a few of the initial thoughts that you had when you realized that your sister has the same top 5 strengths as you and all 5 are in the relationship building domain?
A: My first thoughts were, "Hahaha. That’s so crazy!! Impossible.” I still find it really interesting and pretty amusing that our top 5 are the same. We keep joking to each other that we’re the same person, or that we’re the actual twins in the family (we have 13-year-old sisters who are twins). When I think about who I know Pam to be though, I guess I’m not very surprised that those are her strengths. Pam’s very good at being a friend to people - she has so many people who are fond of her! Now when I think about her strengths though, I realized that they’ve always been so apparent in her daily life! It’s very easy to pick them out even if you’re only just getting to know her.
P: I was really surprised!!! I always thought that my sister and I were quite different but it turns out maybe we are quite similar on the inside?? I never thought we would have the same strengths but only after this, I realized that we might think in a similar way! But I also realized that although we have the same strengths, my sister and I show our strengths quite differently and our top 5 strengths work in a different way.
8) Even though it cannot be proven, what do you think are a few of the factors that contribute to both of you being all "blue" and having THE SAME top 5?
A: Hmm I have no idea actually! We didn’t grow up doing a lot of things together and I wouldn’t say that we were exposed to very similar things growing up. My guess is that it’s partly genetic. Maybe our parents brought us to all their social gatherings when we were young, throwing us into social situations right from the cradle haha. We’re both introverts though, so perhaps it’s not so much being put in social situations but rather it’s probably partly due to our mom’s special nurturing touch as well. Thanks Mom, xoxo!
P: I think maybe it's because of the way we’ve been raised and as we’ve grown up together. Also, I've been influenced greatly by my older sister because I’ve always looked up to her. It could also be that since we are the older siblings in a family of five kids, we feel like we should look out for them, which grew our relational capacities. And I think we grew up in an environment in which family and relationships are important: being constantly surrounded by people may explain why we’re all “blue.”
Concluding thoughts: Many who are very relational often struggle to believe that their Strengthsfinder themes are talents to begin with. It seems like many of them feel that society often projects an image that certain "strengths" are more valued -- at the expense of the relational ones. However, it is also becoming more evident that many organizations have teams that are not performing well, and more people are leaving their jobs because of the lack of concern and care by managers and fellow teammates. Teams that thrive often have strong team members who use their relational strengths powerfully to glue the team together. It is also often the relationally stronger ones who lift up the morale of others in the team. It is therefore important that each of us start to appreciate in a greater measure that those who dominate the relationship building domain are the ones who really have the "heart." Their desire to love and care makes a big difference in this world!