I love psychological formulas as they describe what seems indescribable. And one of the qualities that seems beyond quantification is influence and persuasion. But maybe it’s not?
Clifton StrengthsFinders* describes 34 strength themes that we all have, but to varying degrees. They categorize these themes into four domains: executing, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking. If you’re particularly good at one of the above domains, chances are you have some of your dominant strengths in the respective category.
Influencing is the domain that is the biggest mystery to me, so I looked at the strengths listed in that category: activator (starting things), command (taking control/making decisions), communication (verbal and non-verbal), competition, maximizer (strive for excellence in self and others), self-assurance (belief in one’s own ability to achieve things), significance (want to be important in the eyes of others), and woo (love meeting strangers and winning them over). Approximately 25% of the strengths are in the influencing theme, and some themes not listed here can have influencing qualities. For example, one can inspire others with their futuristic vision (futuristic) or passion for their idea or cause (belief), though those are primarily (but not exclusively) categorized as a strategic and executing theme, respectively.
Therefore, the vast majority of us have an influencing theme or two that we use every day, though we may not realize it. As such, we all have the ability to influence and persuade. The qualities involved in persuasion are varied but include being able to get things done (activator), or done well (maximize), and motivation to win (competition) or win others over (woo). An element of confidence (command, self-assurance) and ability to communicate also facilitate this skill.
The beauty about strengths work is that by focusing on our strengths, we increase our happiness, engagement and effectiveness. We also realize that we can’t be good at everything, as our strengths results are given in a list from strongest to weakest. But we can use our strengths strategically to help fill in some of those gaps at the bottom of the list.
I’ll bet you have strengths that you use to fill in your gaps, but don’t realize it. For example, I’m probably slightly above average in my ability to meet people and make a good connection with them such that we’re exchanging business cards at the end of the exchange. But woo is probably #30 on my list. This skill just does not come that easily to me. It takes effort and concentration on my part, and I rely on some of my other skills that involve gathering information, using it creatively to make connections, and my desire to form deep relationships with and develop people to approximate a woo-type strength. Voila. A new tool for my toolkit.
Being a strengths coach is so much fun because I can help people strategize about how to use their strengths more effectively (strategic is my strongest domain). I’m even practicing turning that strategic eye toward myself – it’s so much more fun, easy, and effective compared to focusing on my weaknesses.
Part of my goal with this blog is to influence others to take a personal journey of acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude. This is not my strongest domain as I’ve already pointed out. But, I’ve used my activator to get this blog and this entry started, my command to make decisions about what to write, and strategic about how to write it, and my belief in the value of these concepts in people’s lives. To the degree that I have influenced your thinking, then I have used my strengths effectively. To the degree I have not, well, I’m a work in progress.